Love(r)

Exploring Love, Sex & Intimacy

Tag: education

Sexism Hurts Men Too

This is the third and final part of a series on misogyny and sexism. Part one discussed how our society devalues and conspires against the feminine, with disastrous results. Part two discussed the often subtle problem of internalized misogyny and the widespread damage it causes. Today I want to tackle how sexism, a systematic inequality of genders and misogyny really do hurt men/male people. SO THIS ONE GOES OUT TO ALL THE DUDES, because this might surprise some of you, but sexism hurts you too.

If you felt at all left out while you were reading parts 1&2 and want to be included, first off thank you for taking an interest in the plight of the females of your species by reading this far, and second congratulations! Male people have their share of sexist suffering too! Enough suffering in fact, for me to write an entire post about it. And for the record, I’m being completely serious here. You will find little to no sarcasm or condescension in this piece (please call me out on it if you do). Everything I write today comes from a place of genuine compassion. My hope is by the end of reading today’s post, you’ll have a little more compassion for the experience of female people, male people and especially for yourself as a person coping with the patriarchy. 

“While patriarchy endures, [men] will never be free to express who they are, or treat women as they should be treated.” –Margaret Corvid

The patriarchy hurts men too, because it prescribes a limited and oppressive view of masculinity, what a man is supposed to be, how he is supposed to act and what he is supposed to want. I have known men who fit all the common stereotypes we hear about: men who feel ashamed to cry no matter the circumstance, men who don’t know how to articulate and process their emotions very well, men who simultaneously crave and fear intimacy, men who are afraid to show weakness or vulnerability and men who feel limited or trapped by the expectations of their prescribed gender role.

So what does it mean to be a man in a society that devalues and on occasion outright despises the feminine? It means men have to strive to be hyper-masculine and not perceived as feminine at all. They are forced to police themselves and others, staying vigilant to tirelessly guard and maintain their masculinity, a feat they will never pull off flawlessly. In fact, one of the worst things you can do to a man in our society is emasculate him, in other words, take his masculinity away from him. This is why calling a man a “girl”, “bitch” or a “pussy” is even considered insulting. It is also why men fear being laughed at by women, while women are afraid of being killed by men.

Apparently, despite the stereotype of masculine strength, masculinity is actually quite fragile and vulnerable – it is a noble and powerful thing you must fight to earn and fight to keep. Just as every woman I know has been dismissed as “too emotional” at some point in her life, every man I’ve asked has shared that he’s been told to “man up” if he was perceived as being too emotional, i.e. feminine, i.e. weak, i.e. bad. All of this sounds exhausting, oppressive and a potential source of tremendous amounts of anxiety.

But how can men even process or discuss this anxiety, when they are restricted to a very narrow range of acceptable emotional expression in our society? The sad truth is for the most part they don’t. It is terrible and damaging that men aren’t allowed emotional space and expression. Men have feels too! They are human dammit! They deserve to have their feelings validated and acknowledged, just like every person does, and for it to be safe to express and process them.

Another sad thing the patriarchy and hypermasculinity does is tell men they aren’t allowed physical intimacy and closeness. But again, men are human beings, so most of them do in fact need affection, and that need does not make them in any way weak. Men are told they can’t touch or be affectionate with each other or else they might be labeled as homosexual, which points to other related problems in our culture: homophobia and the sexualization of all touch. Furthermore, men are told they need to be dominant/aggressive in their sexual conquests of women, so physical intimacy and affection is hard to come by even from female partners. I have personally seen men feel anxious or even panic when allowed to be vulnerable – I have been the big spoon and witnessed a mix of relief and confusion. I believe that all male people would benefit from a normalization of platonic, consensual touch without having to fear that it will be sexualized or call into question their masculinity and/or sexual orientation. 

The list goes on and on with things the patriarchy discourages men from doing, less they be emasculated: Men aren’t allowed to cry; Men are expected to carry huge emotional burdens and do so stoically; Men are shamed for asking for help or seeking support if they are victimized or abused. These beliefs about what true masculinity is go so far that they perpetuate the idea that real men can’t be the victim of harassment, stalking, domestic abuse, rape, etc. But these terrible things do in fact happen to male people, they’re just more likely to “man up” and not talk about it, or seek help, and when they do they are not often taken seriously. 

If femininity was valued as much as masculinity in our society, if people were allowed to be people and not restricted gender roles, then the lives of everyone would be happier and healthier. There are lots of specific perks to having equality for people regardless of sex or gender.

When you are taught to dehumanize women through objectification or idolization (putting them on a pedestal) it is nearly impossible to have healthy intimacy with them. It is the classic “Madonna-whore complex“, where women are either elevated into pure, innocent beings deemed worthy of love or the role of caregiver (wives, mothers, saints, etc) or they are debased objects to be used for sexual gratification. The thing is women can be all of those things, and are certainly so much more.  

boys will be held accountable

And dudes, I’ve heard some of you like sex (it’s totally cool if you don’t though – shout out to all the asexuals out there!). However, the idea that men always want sex, that it’s all they think about and that they should always be the dominant/aggressive one in a sexual encounter is so restrictive. It also sets us up to believe that men are not in control of their sexuality, or accountable for the actions they take. It fuels the entitlement men feel towards sex and the fear women fear towards male sexuality. The truth is men have a wide range of sexual expression and desires. I have a tip for you though, if you do like having sex with women, more women would be interested if they felt a) safe b) respected and c) that their pleasure mattered in the encounter. Studies have shown that women aren’t actually any less interested in casual sex than their male counterparts, despite the longstanding cultural stereotypes. Women are just as likely to engage in casual sex provided they feel they are not going to be slut shamed about the encounter and that their partner is going to try to make it a pleasurable experience for them. 

Take it from me, if you let a sexually adventurous woman feel safe and respected, give her equal power to stay or leave as you do, then if she wants she will bend over backwards to please the both of you. I have personally know men who are respectful, considerate, mindful of the needs of the women in their lives, without sacrificing an ounce of their masculinity. It is very inspiring and attractive. These men tend to get what they want, because they are willing to listen, to communicate and to give as much as they take.

Most all of us have a need for sex, companionship and intimacy, but none of us are entitled to them. This is a priveldge we all are capable of earning, not a right we are born with. Because we are each autonomous beings with agency, no one owes you anything, and intimacy is not something you can coerce or force. You can invite it and encourage it… and that is about all. Thus sexism, misogyny, objectification and idolization will all interfere with, if not totally prevent, our ability to have healthy intimacy with each other.

“It is feminism that offers men the chance at a sexually fulfilling life. When rape culture is extinguished, when patriarchy subsides, all genders can realise their full sexual expression in safety. Even now, what feminism asks of men – that they be conscious of their privilege and respect the agency of women – can lead them to truly satisfying intimate relationships […] feminist values can teach them the skills to communicate with respect.”-Margaret Corvid

Imagine what it could be like if we did not live in a patriarchy that values hyper-masculinity and devalues femininity. Imagine if you felt safe to identify, experience and express your emotions whatever they might be. Imagine you did not have to repress or censor any part of your self expression. Imagine you were allowed to receive safe, consensual physical affection from not only your significant other, but your female and male friends too. Imagine you did not always have to project strength or deal with issues in an aggressive manner. Imagine you were not assumed to be a mindless slave to your libido, or assumed that you do not have control over your sexual desire, or assumed to be a potential rapist. Imagine women by default felt safe to communicate with you, be themselves around you, and express any interest they might have in you without fear. Imagine you did not have to worry about being masculine enough, or too feminine. Imagine if you were acceptable, lovable and totally awesome just as you are!

il_570xN.633764192_i5cl

Lovingly yours,

Clara


Love(r) wants to hear from you! Here’s how:

  • Leave a comment below!
  • Email – theintimacyblog@gmail.com
  • Twitter – @TheIntimacyBlog
Advertisements

Internalized Misogyny

Art Credit: Jemimah Vaughan

Art Credit: Jemimah Vaughan

This is the second part of what I intend to be a three part series discussing sexism and/or misogyny and how they affect our relationships. You can read the first part, “How Society Conspires Against the Feminine” here. Today I want to explore the insidious and cognitively dissonant problem of internalized misogyny, or in other words, when female people learn to hate femininity.

For some of you out there, the concept of internalized misogyny makes no sense. How could it be possible for a person to hate their own gender? But the sad truth is, it’s very common. I used to be a mild misogynist myself, without really being aware of the harm I was doing and the sexism I was unwittingly perpetuating. I know many other female people with similar experiences, and those who struggle with it still. Really this is just a case of the sexist messages of our culture being so successful that even the victims of these messages buy into the hate and go on to perpetuate it. It is the same as a gay person believing all the homophobic bullshit they’ve heard all their life and becoming spiteful and closeted. Or an African American internalizing racist messages from our society, learning to resent their own race or culture. 

If you’re still not sure what I’m talking about, start by asking yourself, how many times have you heard a woman say the following, or as a woman said these things yourself? 

  • I’m not like other girls
  • I’m one of the good ones/fun ones/cool ones
  • I don’t have many female friends, mostly male friends
  • Girls are catty and petty and cause so much drama
  • Women are boring and dumb
  • I’m just one of the guys
  • Other girls pick on me/tease me

fa87fcdf6588b01fa0654ad54ea5c9f7

Why do we say this shit? Why do we throw other women under the proverbial bus and try so hard to differentiate ourselves as somehow “better” than the rest? It’s because when girls say this stuff they are striving to be the “Exceptional Girl”. She’s cool, she’s not catty, she’s “one of the guys”, she’s EXCEPTIONAL GIRL! A superhuman with all the sex appeal of a female and none of the drama and negativity our society dumps on femininity. She is a very common pop-culture trope, often used to reinforce patriarchal ideals. The reality though is that insulting and judging other females as you try to scramble your way to the top will only hurt you in the end. By fighting to be the Exceptional Girl you endorse sexist ideas about women and you reveal your own self-loathing. Because how do you really expect to feel happy and whole if deep down you hate what you are?

Unfortunately these sorts of ideas get reinforced all the time. If I had a dollar for every dude who ever told me “you’re not like other girls, you’re fun/cool/[insert positive attribute]” who meant it as a compliment (and trust me I took those words to heart as compliments) I would have way too many dollars that I would not be proud of now. I look back at my younger, more naive self and wonder, why was I so eager for male approval, especially at the malign of my fellow females? The answer is because all women in our society are conditioned to seek out male validation and to regard other females as competition.  

So obviously when this game has been set up to be every woman for herself, female people start to believe they can’t trust each other. Last time I discussed the sad reality that females are taught to believe their value is something they have to earn from males. If your value comes from men desiring you then why would you fraternize with the enemy (aka other females)? You’re also likely to do and say whatever is necessary to make your competition seem less desirable, in order to succeed in this stupid, zero-sum game where women are pitted against each other. Furthermore, asserting power over another human is much easier if that human is insecure and lacking in strong emotional bonds with other people. Thus the strategy is to undermine female people’s trust in themselves and each other – divide and conquer. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there who want to keep women divided so that they are easier to conquer and control. 

Yes, some women are petty, catty, etc, but so are some men, so are some human beings of any kind! We need to learn to appreciate that female people are people first and female second. Every woman out there has as much potential for greatness, villainy and everything in between as her male peers do. Ideally, she will be judged on her actions and character rather than just her sex and/or gender.  

0-pF95NddEIvwBcLY5-

Part of the reason internalized misogyny persists is because it does have certain appeal and incentives in our patriarchal society. Some of the appeal of being the only female (who has been deemed exceptional, or at least tolerable) in a male social group comes from a boost to the ego that it gives, while some of it comes from laziness. When trying to make friends with people where physical attraction is not the default current pulling you together you have to make more of an effort to be a decent and interesting human being. Thus the reverse, being friends with people who are sexually attracted to you, is easier – you just don’t have to try as hard. 

There is also a more insidious dynamic at play. Due to the widespread objectification of the female form, women learn to objectify other women just as much as men do. So much so in fact that both men and women’s brains perceive “men as people and women as body parts“. This disturbing quirk causes women to draw comparisons and size each other up in our daily lives to the point where it’s almost impossible to turn this process off. It’s unconscious and instantaneous. Most women walk into a room and instantly rank themselves and the other women present according to this unspoken hierarchy of attractiveness, which only intensifies insecurities and the hunger for outside validation. It can feel tremendously fulfilling to earn the friendship and approval of men you’ve been taught to defer to, who have the power to validate you and make you feel special. While on the other hand, it can feel challenging to be friends with the women you’ve been taught to objectify, compete against, and who are a constant potential trigger for your own insecurities.

“Women to varying degrees internalize this outsider view and begin to self-objectify by treating themselves as an object to be looked at and evaluated on the basis of appearance. Self-objectification manifests in a greater emphasis placed on one’s appearance attributes (rather than competence-based attributes) and in how frequently a woman watches her appearance and experiences her body according to how it looks (McKinley & Hyde, 1996; Noll & Fredrickson, 1998). Objectification theory also posits a mediation model that may explain how self-objectification leads to women’s mental health risks via negative psychological outcomes.” – Sexual Objectification of Women: Advances to Theory and Research, Szymanski et al, 2011

So by now I hope it is clear that not only does internalized misogyny exist, it is pervasive and damaging to the intimacy a female person has with herself, as well as her ability to have healthy intimacy with other people (male or female). As I have written previously, it is difficult, if not nearly impossible, to truly have healthy intimacy with someone you have been taught to dehumanize into a sexual object. And as the research shows, not only are men doing this to women, but women are devaluing and dehumanizing themselves. If we are going to love ourselves, love others, be satisfied with our lives, get in touch with what we truly want and then fight for it, this sort of systemic and toxic loathing of femininity needs to stop.

So what can we do to alleviate our own internalized misogyny and possibly prevent it from developing in the first place?

First you can start by recognizing that women don’t have to be your greatest enemies, they can be your greatest allies. Because what are you really competing for anyways? The attention and validation of men? Girl, take it from me, it’s okay to want it, but by no means do you need it. It’s grossly overvalued and not actually going to make you happy or satisfied with yourself. Because true satisfaction is not something other people can give you. It’s something you build for yourself. When you build a relationship with yourself that contains true love and intimacy, you won’t need other people to define and reassure your value. A million men can tell a woman she is gorgeous, but that by itself isn’t going to make her feel any less insecure. And knocking down other women through teasing, criticizing, bullying, slut-shaming, gender-policing, and generally not supporting each other will only hurt you in the end. Hating other women leads to hating yourself, or vice versa, having the feminine things about yourself be ridiculed or scrutinized leads to resenting other women.

Internalized misogyny is a damaging cycle we definitely need to break. And we break it through loving ourselves (including our femininity), appreciating the femininity in others (including men), and by striving to see female people as PEOPLE. 

Tune in next time on Love(r), as I continue to explore the topic of sexism by discussing how sexism hurts menfolk too.

Lovingly yours,

Clara


Love(r) wants to hear from you! Here’s how:

  • Leave a comment below!
  • Email – theintimacyblog@gmail.com
  • Twitter – @TheIntimacyBlog

How Society Conspires Against the Feminine

unwomenad1

Being feminine in our culture, whether you are a cis-woman, a trans-woman, or an effeminate male-bodied person, can be difficult or even degraded. I am not saying women have the sole share, or even the biggest share, of injustice in modern society. Race and socioeconomic class play a significant part in whether you are privileged or screwed when it comes to the way society treats you and its concept of your value. Add intersectionality to the mix, as I have been educating myself on, and women of color get to experience the double-whammy of sexism and racism.

But sex and gender play a big role in the advantages a person has. Being female or feminine is often seen as a disadvantage and makes you a minority in many spheres of our society. How is it possible that female persons are a minority in so many places (among corporate executives, in the boardroom, on the senate floor, in positions of power in the media, in STEM fields, etc) when on average 51% of the world’s population is female? It is the same reason that such a relatively small percent of the US population controls the majority of its wealth. The answer is power imbalance and systems that benefit from perpetuating that power imbalance. 

Society overall does not regard femininity as valuable and I would argue conspires against it in all sorts of ways. As a result, women do not hold as much power in their own lives as they potentially could, and arguably what is more important, they themselves do not feel empowered. This extends beyond persons who were born as women (two X chromosomes), and affects any person perceived as feminine. This is why it is more acceptable in our society to be a tomboy than a… do we even have a term in English for male-bodied people who prefer to dress/act femininely that isn’t offensive and hurtful? I can only think of insulting ones, which goes to show that we value masculinity so much that we respect women who pursue the masculine ideal, while we belittle men who pursue the feminine ideal.

As women we are sent many damaging and disenfranchising messages. Today I am going to talk about just a few of the major ones. 

f21bb-debbieharry

Constantly, in subtle and not so subtle ways, women are told that our value is in our bodies – our bodies are the best and worst thing about us, and most damaging of all, that in the end they don’t really belong to us.

There is a hyper-focus in our society on female bodies and appearance at the neglect of other traits. It is first and foremost about beauty and sex appeal. Through the objectification and commodification of the female form, bodies are not seen as whole human beings, but a collection of potentially pleasing/repulsive body parts used to sell products, please men, or keep women striving for unattainable perfection. We are taught that this is our currency in society, that our value is derived from being beautiful, being sexy, or generally being pleasant for public (usually male) consumption. 

Women are trained to be very aware and critical of these things. We are taught to police the appearance and behavior of ourselves and each other. Some of the worst body-shaming I have ever experienced or heard about came from other women.

Worst of all, as society often demonstrates, our bodies seemingly do not even belong to us: they are subject to scrutiny from strangers, harassment in public places, judgement from society, and legally we don’t even get to decide what we do with them in certain very important ways (reproductive rights, etc). I would even go a step further to say that the obsession with what a woman can and can’t do with her body, whether it is slut-shaming her for being a sexual agent rather than sexual object, or caring more about protecting the life of a fetus than a mother, it all comes back around to the idea that a woman’s value, her currency, is in her body (sex, pregnancy, motherhood, beauty, and so on).

Recent campaigns meant to empower women are often still too focused on beauty. Positive messages like “black is beautiful”, or “fat is beautiful” are great and totally true, but what about the idea that a female person’s significance is not rooted in whether or not she is “beautiful” at all. What if it was based on the quality of her character, her achievements, her intelligence, her love, her compassion, her generosity?     

misogyny

Building on the idea that a female person’s value is derived from her “beauty” is the idea that whatever value she has, or could have, is not intrinsic, but is something she has to earn, usually from men. If she is not fulfilling her obligation to be consumable and aesthetically pleasing, or one of her socially acceptable roles as nurturer/care-giver/mother then she is often seen as useless or even worthless. This is one of the reasons why women are constantly encouraged to act accommodating and permissive towards others, putting other’s needs before her own so as to fulfill those assigned roles.

Overall, as female people we are shamed about our bodies, shamed about our sexual expression, shamed about our emotional needs, and generally undermined in almost every way.

The onslaught of messages include:

  • Remember to be sexy and beautiful, or at very least pleasing to look at
  • Take care of others emotional needs even at the cost of your own (especially men and children)
  • You are an object of sexual desire, but control yourself because your sex is a resource that men want access to, and they want to control that access
  • If you express your anger or push back you will be dismissed as a bitch or as crazy

But why is it this way? What is the point?

The reason is to create insecurity and instability. If we were secure in ourselves, in our feelings, in our needs, in our sexual expression, in our bodies, and we didn’t feel like we needed external permission or validation, then how could we be manipulated? What would be left to manipulate?  

In the context of abusive relationships, one of the main strategies of abusers is to undermine the trust the victim has in their own judgement or feelings. The abuser seeks to create such insecurity, so that their victim will not fight back or stand up to the abuse. It is easier to manipulate someone who does not trust themselves. Take this in the larger context of sexism and you can see it happening to female people all around us all too often. We have a patriarchal society that seeks to keep feminine people captive and in their place by creating insecurity and undermining a person’s trust in their own judgement. Why does the patriarchy seek this? Probably to keep the power in the hands of certain people and I would guess to keep us spending money, which is the physical proxy of power. Female people spend so much money every year striving to be feminine, beautiful, sexy and fuckable. Male people probably spend a comparable amount of money themselves striving to be masculine, not at all feminine, sexy and fuckable. I suspect this is just one source of necessary fuel for our perpetual consumer culture.

So what does this sort of sexism and misogyny have to do with intimacy, you may be asking yourself. Simply put, this sort of loathing, insecurity and dehumanization makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to have healthy intimacy at all.

Being genuinely intimate with another person is very challenging when you are worried and insecure about being perceived as feminine or masculine enough. Body image issues and low self esteem abound in our society for female people, leading to low confidence, and a lack of pleasure in things like sex or physical intimacy. In addition it is hard to have healthy intimacy when a person is taught to actively loath parts of themselves, in this instance the feminine parts. Thus many men suffer alongside women, because the message to hate the feminine parts of themselves has been beaten into them by society all their lives. Also teaching men to see women as sexual objects or that women’s purpose is to be pleasing for male consumption, instills a very limiting view of women. Take it from me, it is hard to be intimate with women if you have been trained to dehumanize them into a sexual object. Furthermore, an important element of intimacy is accessing and expressing one’s emotions, which society teaches men is unacceptable (I intend to write about the effects of sexism on masculinity as well in the near future). Ultimately, issues of gender equality and sexism actually hold a lot of influence over our ability to be intimate with each other in a healthy way. We as individuals, couples, families and society will benefit from being empowered, happy individuals who treat each other as equals.

So what can we do about it?

The first step is to be aware that any of this is going on. The only way female people will stop being manipulated, learn to value themselves, and get society to stop seeing femininity as worthless, is to become aware of the ways femininity is devalued and actively fight against it. It is not an easy fight, but it is an important one. This is why feminism is so significant. Not because it will give female people supremacy in some sort of matriarchy to replace the existing patriarchy, but because it is the means by which the genders/sexes will finally be valued equally.

200_s

Tune in next week on Love(r), as I continue to explore the topic of sexism by looking at the sad phenomenon of internalized misogyny.

Lovingly yours,

Clara


Love(r) wants to hear from you! Here’s how:

  • Leave a comment below!
  • Email – theintimacyblog@gmail.com
  • Twitter – @TheIntimacyBlog

Owning Your Emotions

This is a reblog of something I wrote a couple months ago, which I was asked to share with the intentional community I am currently living in on the Big Island of Hawaii, called Kalani. At our Monday morning all-hands meeting I signed-up to give an “inspiration moment” to our community. I felt intuitively that our ohana could benefit both as individuals and as a whole from hearing what I had to say about emotional ownership. Afterwards I was humbled and overjoyed to find that it resonated with so many people. You are all welcome to enjoy, or even make use of my words, I just ask that I am given credit for them. Thank you!


Owning Your Emotions

by Clara Lawryniuk

Today I would like to talk about an important lesson I have had to learn again and again and again… taking ownership of my emotions. It is one of the most important (and sometimes most challenging) skills we need to develop in order to have healthy intimacy. Part of emotional ownership is establishing healthy boundaries, another part is delineating where your own feelings begin and another person’s end, but a great deal of it is an active, intentional practice.

The concept of emotional ownership is not always the most intuitive. I could tell you that to have better intimacy in your friendships and romantic relationships you should strive for honesty, vulnerability and trustworthiness – however, these goals and all the good intentions behind them often go awry when we are not taking responsibility for our own feelings and expecting the same from others.

Emotional ownership is not obvious or intuitive for most of us because of many ideas instilled in us from society, culture, our families and often personal experiences. We are encouraged to accommodate and protect the feelings of others, often at the cost of our own emotional needs. Furthermore, when we find ourselves in discomfort we have been taught to figure out who is at fault while simultaneously depending on others to relieve the discomfort.

Do any of the following scenarios sound familiar?

  • He made me mad, now my day is ruined because of him.
  • If I tell her the truth, it will make her jealous and upset and it will be all my fault.
  • I’m so lonely, please someone make me feel better

When we engage this way it puts the responsibility of how we feel and how we handle emotions off on others, giving up our own power in the process. This can be extremely convenient at times, and even satisfying in the moment, but it means living a life where how we feel is at the mercy of others. Perpetually living in reaction to others emotions, or on-edge, worried you will upset someone, is an exhausting and anxious way to live. It is tremendously difficult to build healthy intimacy when carrying on that way. Thus I advocate for everyone taking their power back and owning their emotions. When we empower ourselves in this way we open the door for making conscious choices about how to deal with how we feel. Furthermore owning our emotions allows more space for self-love, self acceptance and self-intimacy.

I have often found it is helpful when discussing this concept with people to use physical metaphors to draw more tangible comparisons. There are so many things that people unequivocally agree with when it comes to respecting our bodies, yet have a hard time extending the same rights and responsibilities when it comes to emotional health. For example, if someone is being physically abusive and excuses their violence by claiming the victim “made me do it!” we would all see that as total bullshit. I ask you though, what about emotional abuse? In our culture and society there are still too many people making excuses for emotional abuse and blaming the victims. I realize I am highlighting some extreme cases, but still it is too common to see people shirking responsibility for their own feelings, blaming others for those feelings and then excusing the actions they chose to take as if it were beyond their control.

Now, all of this is not meant to invalidate your emotions, push you to feel differently than you do, or tell you to cut it out. Your anger when you feel slighted, your jealousy when you feel neglected and your pride when you feel successful are all valid and meaningful. Or as two of my favorite authors put is so eloquently:

“Emotions are never wrong; only actions can be wrong. Emotions are an expression of our emotional truth, and truth cannot be wrong. Nor do they need to be justified. They just need to be felt.” –  Dossie Easton and Janet Hardy

We need to accept that we cannot always consciously control our emotional reactions and experiences, nor should we, they are an important part of living a full, healthy life. They tell us something important in the moment and we should listen. But we can control the actions we choose to take. When we take ownership of our feelings (anger, jealousy, insecurity, joy, triumph) we are giving ourselves and those we care about permission to be authentic and vulnerable. It also demonstrates that we are safe and trustworthy. It allows us to know and experience each other and be intimate.

The positive changes that will take place in your life by owning your emotions are plentiful. You will be less vulnerable to emotional manipulation and will be less likely to manipulate others. You get to take your power back and become a person with agency in their life rather than a passive victim of other people’s’ moods. You get a chance to learn that the emotions that scare you aren’t so scary after all – almost always they are more tolerable than you thought. You still get to be compassionate and empathetic towards others without feeling the need to fix/change their experience. True compassion and solidarity happens when we let others experience their feelings without trying to change them, define them, or co-opt them. I know we have all been involved on one side of that or both…do any of these sound familiar?

  • A family member is feeling sad and looks to you to change that for them.
  • Your significant other is jealous about how you were interacting with someone else and lashes out with mean-spirited words to get back at you rather than have a discussion about it.
  • Someone tells you something you don’t want to hear and you think, “How could you do this to me? You made me feel this way!
  • You confide in someone about your feelings and the impression you get from them is ‘Don’t be sad around me, because it will make me sad. I can’t handle the truth of your feelings.

Taking responsibility for our own feelings is just as difficult as it is liberating. I’m not going to lie, it is hard sometimes. Certain feelings are painful, some can seem downright unbearable, and at times you fear they will go on forever. Ask yourself what would happen if you really let yourself experience and embody your feelings? I can tell you one thing, you will survive. You will see that as unpleasant as they can be, they are tolerable. And experiencing them will make you feel stronger. Now there are times when emotional pain is so great that for a multitude of reasons a person might contemplate self-harm or suicide. I am not advocating for white-knuckling through serious distress alone until a person feels hopeless. If you or someone you know ever contemplates self-harm or suicide, please seek help.

There are resources out there to help you get the help, comfort, love, or attention that you need. Taking responsibility for your emotions does not mean suffering alone, does not mean keeping silent about how you feel, it just means recognizing that these feelings are yours, these choices are yours. You do not have to censor yourself, be silent, deny your subjective experience or be blamed for other people’s feelings.

Now I would like everyone to take a deep breath and please take what I am about to say to heart. This is a sort of pledge that I have made for myself, and I encourage you all to take it:

  1. My body is my own. It is my responsibility to take care of my physical health and needs. I will ask for support when I need it. I do not owe anyone access to or control over my body. Others cannot force me to take actions or enact behaviors (if they did that would be assault). I have the power to choose what I do/do not do with my body.
  2. My feelings (yes, all of them) are my own. It is my responsibility to take care of my emotional health and needs. I will ask for support when I need it. I do not owe anyone explanations, excuses or apologies for how I feel, nor do they get to dictate to me what my feelings are/are not. Others cannot force me to feel a certain way. I may not have a choice on what I feel at any given moment, but I do have a choice of how I treat myself/others and the actions I take.

Go on now, own it.

own_it02

Lovingly yours,

Clara


Love(r) wants to hear from you! Here’s how:

  • Leave a comment below!
  • Email – theintimacyblog (at) gmail.com
  • Twitter – @TheIntimacyBlog

8 Resources to Get Better Sex-educated

No matter how you feel about sex you cannot deny it’s significance. None of us would be here without it. Whether you are a sex-positive individual with a roaring libido and tons of experience, if you’re curious but ignorant, or somebody just starting out on a sexual journey of discovery, everyone benefits from understanding sex better. It’s inescapable – even if you are not sexually active, or perhaps a-sexual, sex affects every aspect of the human experience. My sincere hope is that all the sex going down in and around people’s’ lives is safe, healthy, pleasurable, and most importantly consensual! The better educated we all are on the subject, the more we make that dream the reality.

I compiled this list of resources because each has taught (and entertained) me during my own journey to becoming the sex-positive, knowledgeable, unashamed-ly erotic woman writing this blog for you now. Each one is fascinating and fun.

#1 Become literate in everything Dan Savage

Dan Savage for Intiman by LaRae Lobdell | PhotoSister.com

If I had to thank one human being for how open-minded and unashamed I have come to feel about sex (this wasn’t always the case) I would have to pick Dan Savage. Actually, on second thought, I would have to thank my best friend Iris for getting me to listen/read Dan in the first place.

Dan is a monumental figure in the sex-positive and LGBTQ+ communities thanks to his long-standing and widely syndicated sex-centric advice column, Savage Love. It started in my hometown’s alternative newspaper, The Stranger, and over the last twenty-five years has grown into a cultural phenomenon and touch stone of my generation. It also launched the wildly successful Savage Lovecast, along with many key concepts into our sexual lexicon: GGG, monogamish, the campsite rule, etc. I am proud to say that I have listened to every single episode of the Savage Lovecast and am working my way through reading his entire bibliography.

Dan can sometimes be a little rude and crude, but ultimately he is compassionate and it shows. He rarely judges people and always seems to genuinely want to help them – even telling them hard truths that they need to hear but their friends don’t have the guts to tell them. You might not agree with his politics, or you might not like his cursing, but I promise you won’t get a more detailed and comprehensive idea of what human sexuality is really like anywhere else. You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew and maybe some you wish you hadn’t.

So I realize that if you are the sort of person who reads my blog, then you probably already know about Dan and follow his work. But if you have not, please, stop whatever you are doing and immediately start. Because seriously where have you been? I promise you’ll thank me later.

  1. Read the Savage Love advice column
    1. Every week Dan answers letters from regular people looking for advice for issues that range from the mundane to the eccentric. The column covers not only sex, but relationships, sexuality, gender issues, etiquette, kink, and much more.
  2. Listen to the Savage Love Podcast
    1. Episodes usually include an entertaining rant from Dan, followed by phones calls seeking advice that range from the ridiculous to the heart-breaking and everything in between. There are also frequently guest experts or authors/researchers prompting interesting discussions on sex, relationships, religion, family, health issues, etc.
    2. The micro episodes are available for free and the magnum edition (with even more content and no ads) is available with a subscription that is totally affordable.
  3. Read Dan’s Savage’s books

#2 Watch Laci Green on YouTube

Laci-Green

Laci Green is a vlogger who in only a few years has grown from relative obscurity to being one of the most famous (and loved) personalities on YouTube. Watching Laci’s videos is like having a cool and compassionate older sister explain everything you wanted to know about sexuality to you without an ounce of shame or judgement. Her positivity and enthusiasm are infectious, while her videos are all well-researched and chock-a-block full of facts.

  1. Sex+
    1. This is Laci’s main channel, which updates every other week. Check out the archives!
  2. A Naked Notion
    1. This is the channel Laci hosts in collaboration with Planned Parenthood, covering general sex info/tips
  3. MTV Braless
    1. This is the channel Laci hosts in collaboration with MTV, covering “all things pop culture and internet”

#3 Read Sex at Dawn by Cacilda Jethá and Christopher Ryan

Sex_at_Dawn_Ryan_Jetha_2010

Sex at Dawn completely changed the way I think about sex while simultaneously confirming (with science!) many controversial beliefs that I had suspected were true because of personal experience and intuition. This book challenges the standard narrative that monogamous pair-bonding is the evolutionary norm for humans and instead argues that our species has traditionally been both socially and sexually promiscuous. The authors use research about one of our closest genetic relatives, the Bonobos, and their social/sexual behaviors, as well as exhaustive anthropological data from around the world, to support their thesis.

If you find anthropology and/or evolutionary psychology fascinating, or want to learn more about the physical and psychological characteristics of human sexuality, or if you have had a difficult time believing that monogamy is “natural” then I highly recommend Sex at Dawn.

#4 Read the web comic Oh Joy Sex Toy by Erica Moen

f5c69b3c809a581b05f6dfe137c1ee08_large

It’s a beautifully rendered and deliciously graphic web comic about sex toys, need I say more?

Well if I must say more, I would like to add that OJST is not only about sex toys, they have educational, informative comics about sex acts (cunnilingus, anal sex, etc), interesting guest features and solid relationship advice too. I also love that OJST is full of as much body-positivity as it is sex-positivity, showcasing a variety of races, body-types, disabilities, gender-expressions and sexual orientations.

#5 Watch Stuff Mom Never Told You

83ebe2a7b8d5e993e6088e59351f1f08

Stuff Mom Never Told You is another great video channel about pretty much everything, but it has a strong focus on sexuality, gender issues, feminism, etc. These videos manage to be well researched, full of facts and entertaining. Host Christen Conger is charming and unassuming in a way that makes you instantly comfortable. If you love supporting brilliant women as much as I do, definitely check out this channel.

#6 Visit (online or IRL) a sex positive sex shop

origThe amazing thing about sex-positive sex shops are not only do they have toys, they have tons of books, classes and other resources too! And these aren’t your no-windows, sketchy, back-alley shops of shame, these are your well-lit, big-windows and even bigger displays (where often they have testers you can check out) shops that aren’t ashamed of anything. You’ll find knowledgeable, friendly staff and answers to all of your questions. Plus there is no need to feel shy since they welcome people of all genders, orientations, kinks and experience levels. Shops like this are popping up all over the place, or have been in your neighborhood for decades without you even noticing, So check out one of the awesome establishments below or do some googling to find one near you.

  1. Babeland (Seattle, New York, Los Angeles)
  2. Shebop (Portland)
  3. Smitten Kitten (Minneapolis/St.Paul)
  4. Good Vibrations (San Fransisco, Berkeley and Boston)

#7 Read the Ethical Slut

Ethical_slut

I know I keep talking about The Ethical Slut and seriously I wish everyone would read it. I absolutely love this book. I have already mentioned it and quoted it multiple times in my blog, because when it comes to building healthy relationships I think it has tremendous value. While the book focuses on navigating the issues of non-traditional relationships (polyamory, non-monogamy, ethical sluthood, etc) all the exercises and advice are just as applicable to more traditional monogamous couples. There are chapters on communication, opening relationships, identifying desire, handling jealousy, owning emotions, and even how to fight fairly and break up kindly. Everyone and anyone could benefit from reading this book.

#8 Planned Parenthood

ppol-pp-header-care

Planned Parenthood has tons of straightforward information, facts and statistics on everything from healthy relationship practices, to contraception, to sexuality/gender. Visit one of their clinics to receive STD screening, pregnancy tests, emergency contraceptive, pelvic exams, and many other health services. Depending on your state there are programs to provide free or subsidized health care, especially for women or low-income people, whether or not you have health insurance. And if you can, please donate, because for many people out there Planned Parenthood is the only place they can go to receive the affordable healthcare they need.


There you have it, dive head-first into all these resources and you’ll be a bona-fide sex-pert in no time.

Lovingly yours,

Clara


Love(r) wants to hear from you! Here’s how:

  • Leave a comment below!
  • Email – theintimacyblog (at) gmail.com
  • Twitter – @TheIntimacyBlog

We Need More Words for Love

I take issue with the word “love” and its ambiguity. It has grown to be nuanced at best – amorphous and euphemistic at worst. I propose that we as English speakers need to implement more words to express the variety of emotional experiences and bonds that are currently encompassed within the blanket term “love”.

Think about it, what does “love” even mean? Pretend for a moment that I don’t speak English, nor have I been exposed to Western culture, and then try to explain to me what you mean when you say “I love you…”. To complicate this hypothetical even further, how would you explain to me why the word “love” is used in so many different contexts, but that Western English-speaking culture views these various contexts as not actually equivalent. We use “love” to describe the way a mother feels for her children, the way two best friends with a platonic yet affectionate bond feel for one another, and of course it is used for passionate sexual romances, as well as the infatuation between two lovers. Even the term “lovers” is confusing! Native English speakers intuitively recognize “lovers” as sexual and would not use it to describe two friends who in fact love each other. How can all of these feelings and bonds be the same and yet… different? Confused yet? Not to mention that the word “love” has been somewhat diluted by overuse – how often do people say they love chocolate when they mean they’re fond of it? Sorry, chocoholics.

Hello-Im-a-Chocoholic

sorry, not sorry…

If you still have any doubt that the singular term “love” isn’t enough, think about the cliche of a person rationalizing the end of their romantic relationship with the awkward explanation “I love them, but I’m not in love with them”. Semantically that makes very little sense. Yet we all know what they mean, or at least what they mean to mean, when people say it. Or do we? This is one of the problems with one word stretching to cover all these semantic needs, it leads to a lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding. Personally, I think the more effective our communication, especially when it comes to our feelings and relationships, the better.

There is a the linguistic phenomena that affects all of us, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, also known as Linguistic Relativity.  The gist of this principle is that the language you speak and the words it contains actually affects your ability to conceptualize the world and thus influences your reality. Cognitive linguists debate over how strong or weak this influence is, but they all agree the influence between language and thought exists. All conscious thought is mediated through language so it makes sense that you can only explicitly think about concepts/ideas/feelings/etc for which your language has words. On the flip side, if your language doesn’t have a word for a particular concept it is much harder for you to think about it. Not impossible, just harder. Language shapes our reality, but that means our world can be expanded by expanding our language. The more words we have to illustrate the variations and nuances of love in all its forms, the better able we are to think and talk about it.

All I’m saying is that we should have just as many words for love as we do for cheese, because let’s be real they are equally important and essential to happiness.

The ancient Greeks were meticulous when it came to philosophical thought and we owe them a lot. They had about six different words for what we try to convey under the “love” umbrella. I think we could benefit from having just as many if not more.

  1. Eros, or sexual passion
eros

The Abduction of Psyche 1895,                                 by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

Eros was named after the Greek god of lust and desire, known later in the Roman pantheon as Cupid. The Greeks appreciated the irrational and potentially destructive qualities of this sort of love along with it’s pleasure. Experiencing eros could be passionate and thrilling, or fiery, maddening and lead to a loss of control that was considered frightening. It was seen as a loss of sense and reason as a person was overcome with desire. This is the sort of love that could drive someone mad, make them act recklessly, and even destroy them. It is like playing with fire.

We definitely need a better way to identify and discuss this sort of love, characterized by passionate infatuation and a loss of rationality. To say that this is what love is supposed to feel like does a disservice to all the other ways a person can feel affection for another. It can also raise concerns that two people don’t love each other anymore once this fire calms the fuck down, which is often not the case. I could write a whole post about infatuation, and in fact, I promise I will.

  1. Philia, or deep friendship

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, OTP

This second variety of love was valued just as much, if not more, by ancient Greeks than what was seen as the erratic and fickle eros. Philia concerned the camaraderie and loyalty that develops between two people who have a mutual respect and a genuine concern for one another’s well being. This is a a friendship built through experience and trust. The feeling that someone has your back and you have theirs. This is totally a form of love that is just as important as eros, and yet our culture tends to down play it or marginalize it completely. I think that is silly and unfair.

“the central idea of [philia] is that of doing well by someone for his own sake, out of concern for him (and not, or not merely, out of concern for oneself)… [a] kind of mutual well-doing.” – Philosopher, John M. Cooper

  1. Ludus, or playful love

Ludus is playful love, the kind of lively fun and affection that happens between children when they play, adolescents and adults when they flirt, new lovers when they tease and find fun ways to get to know each other and of course red pandas when they pounce. This is the banter, the dancing, the laughing and the feel-good frivolity who’s worth is often under appreciated.  I’m here to reassure you that having fun is important and love is not always so serious.

  1. Agape, or selfless love

agape

Agape is selfless love and is even the origin of the word “charity” (from the Latin caritas). This is the love an individual feels for the entirety of human kind, which can inspire and motivate them to contribute to the greater good. Agape is distinctive from other types of love because it is compassion for other humans simply because they are human, not because you know them, or they are your family member, or you are fond or them, or they can do something for you, or you like the way they make you feel. I would argue you that it does not stop at our own species and that one’s desire to protect animals or preserve ecosystems is also a form of agape. Charity and selfless acts are important acts of love and should be recognized as such.

  1. Pragma, or mature love

Pragma is the mature, intimate love that develops between two people who have known each other for a long time. This is patient, loyal, respectful love that comes from understanding each other, sharing many experiences and compromising on one another’s behalf. Often eros, the fiery, passionate beginning of a relationship gets all the attention and praise (likely due to it’s intensity), but pragma is what most of us hope to have in our lives. Pragma is secure and satisfying and doesn’t have to be boring. In many cases eros can grow into pragma after time has passed and compatibility and intimacy has been established, but pragma is also often found between long lasting, platonic friends.

  1. Philautia, or self love
kanye love

Kanye West, the most philiautia-est rapper of all time.

This sixth type, philautia or self-love, was believed to have a healthy side as well as a dangerous one. There was the unhealthy and potentially destructive narcissism, where a person becomes self-obsessed to the point that they only truly love themselves and relate to others as an extension of their own self. A healthy expression of philautia though, was thought to not only bring the individual greater happiness, but improve their capacity for kindness, compassion and love towards others. Aristotle said, “All friendly feelings for others are an extension of a man’s feelings for himself” with the understanding that the more love we have for ourselves the more we have to give to others.

The truth is no one person can be your everything and fulfill your every need. Friendship, family and the community at large are just as important and can be just as much sources of satisfaction as a committed, romantic relationship. The ancient Greeks recognized this diversity of love and relationships and they had a more complete picture of life because of it. They saw the potentially destructive side of eros, just as they believed in the importance of philia. This ability to see the good, bad, beautiful and ugly about the ways we love each other allows us to be more conscious of the relationships we build. Furthermore, it shows us that our lives are full of love even if we do not have a spouse.

Expanding our vocabulary will allow us to think about love more completely and in turn communicate about it more effectively. It will allow us to recognize and appreciate all the various types of love and affection present in our lives. It helps us to see that all of these types of love are important and enriching. It eliminates the hierarchy that puts romantic love as the pinnacle and everything else as good, sure, but not the epitome. It shows that labeling the love we receive from friends and companions as less than what we receive from a romantic partner is flawed and does us a disservice. It enables us to talk about the changes that happen in a relationship as one moves from eros towards pragma, or how much ludos we experience. Expand your vocabulary, expand your mind and see all the many forms that love takes in your life.

Lovingly yours,

Clara


Love(r) wants to hear from you! Here’s how:

  • Leave a comment below!
  • Email – theintimacyblog (at) gmail.com
  • Twitter – @TheIntimacyBlog

What is Intimacy & Why Should You Care

Some of the stuff I write about today is going to sound very basic, a few of you might even think to yourself ‘duh, doesn’t everyone know that?’. But for each person who finds this information to be obvious I hope there is another who has never given it much thought. The goal is to spark self-reflection, discussion and ideally positive development. So whether this is all new to you or not, I think an introduction that dives into some of the nitty-gritty is a good place to start.

tumblr_m3sx0zUOce1qhz4wmo1_500

What Do I Mean Why I Say “Intimacy”?

I will do my best to define terms in order to combat ambiguities, because it is frustrating how ill equipped English can be to discuss the nuances of interpersonal relationships. The vocabulary is sadly underdeveloped so that even when I use the word “intimacy” your mind may jump straight to ideas about sex and/or some vague concept of a sacred emotional bond between “soul mates”, without considering the full range of possibilities. No worries, Clara is here to clarify the shit out of some terms and concepts.

What do I even mean when I say intimacy? Distilled down to its most essential, intimacy is a bond forged between people through knowledge and experience. The word itself comes from the Latin intimatus, ‘make familiar’. To truly be intimate with a person, to form a substantial and secure bond, one must know them as they really are, which is achieved and maintained through authentic experiences. This definition may seem like an oversimplification, but I promise you, while it is very simple it is also very powerful.

Most of us will recognize that the bonds and attachments that form intimacy are important to our quality of life. They can bring pleasure, comfort, satisfaction, happiness, excitement and fulfillment to our lives. These bonds can take many forms: the bond between parent and child, platonic friends, respected teammates, sexual partners, co-parents, etc. I will even argue that it is possible (and ideal) to build and cultivate intimacy with one’s self. As far as types of intimacy, most psychologists agree there are four main paths of development: physical, emotional, cognitive and experiential.

Even Aristotle thousands of years ago recognized the importance of intimacy. Every relationship, he argued, is based on one of three things: utility, pleasure and virtue. With the first two it is easy to see how transactional they can be and that neither requires knowledge or experience of the other – I don’t need to know you to take pleasure from you or to make use of you. But a bond built on virtue (a person’s characteristics, personality and the integrity of their deeds) does require knowledge and experience. Aristotle valued these virtue based relationships the most and predicted they would be the longest lasting, because he believed they are the only ones in which a person is appreciated for who they are and not what they provide. I personally agree with Aristotle for the most part, but I would insist that there is nothing inherently wrong, lacking or degrading about bonds built on utility, pleasure, or what have you. As long as they are respectful and consensual they all have their place.

A lot of emphasis is put on trust and communication in relationships, and it is true they are important. Both will bring you experience and knowledge of others, but the whole process of building and maintaining intimacy can be difficult in and of itself for anyone. This is due to the challenging reality that often the same avenues through which intimacy is achieved can be the same activities/states of being that frighten people: dialogue, transparency, vulnerability, and reciprocity.

We humans are undeniably social animals. While it may take different forms and expressions, love, closeness, affection, recognition, and validation are all things we each crave. Even the most fiercely independent people have social needs and, as I will argue again and again, you are your only true life-long companion. So building intimacy with yourself can only enrich your life.

You might ask though, how could you develop self-intimacy? Aren’t you already and always by default intimate with yourself? Having a healthy functional relationship with yourself works much the same as having a working relationship with others, it is built on knowledge and experience. It is true you are always in close proximity to yourself, but too many people go through life ignorant, sometimes willfully so, about themselves. Without a good working knowledge of who you are and what you want, or without the experiences that bring you such knowledge, you may go through life feeling lost, anxious and estranged. I will write about self-intimacy/love more exhaustively in a future blog post. Honestly, every concept I touch on today could have its own dedicated post. But right now we are just talking about the basics and hopefully I will persuade you that intimacy matters – it matters for your satisfaction and your happiness.

drake-quote

Why Intimacy Matters

Many people feel depressed or unfulfilled in life because they sense something is lacking. Some are lonely, some feel deprived, some feel insecure and some are making unconscious choices that are hurting themselves or others. Still others do not have a sense of who they are, what they want, or where they are going. Feeling estranged from yourself and/or others is a good indicator that you need to work on intimacy. Many people spend their time and energy chasing things they think will make them happy only to feel deeply dissatisfied in the end. Happiness can become an elusive goal with ephemeral results, or a poorly defined destination point; the myth that once we make it to graduation, marriage, or a particular threshold we will live happily ever after. Happiness is not a destination, because life is a journey that is in constant flux.

What many of us have been taught to believe is happiness I would argue is actually just pleasure. We have been taught hedonism, to focus on pursuing one aspect of happiness, as if it were something we can unlock and achieve, but instead of long lasting content it is a short-lived thrill. Our culture values infatuation rather than secure, lasting bonds and immediate pleasures and instant gratifications rather than long term satisfaction. We have been told that you can love someone and not be “in love” with them and that if this happens it means the relationship is flawed or doomed. The truth though is that infatuation never lasts, it can come and go, ebb and flow, but that chemical excitement a person feels can only last a few years at most. If we valued intimacy as much as we valued infatuation then perfectly good relationships need not be abandoned when the fireworks fade. There is nothing wrong with either, and one isn’t right or better. My argument is that constantly pursuing what is easy, quick and pleasurable and ignoring the rest will lead to hurt and countless issues. It creates a life of coping instead of thriving. I believe all these experiences satisfy best when kept in balance, when you have stability and security as you chase your thrills.

quotes-intimacy-courage-rollo-may-480x480

Ask Yourself…

Are you getting your needs met? We each have numerous needs and each and every one of them is valid. Do you feel that you are fulfilled in your need to be known, to be seen, to be heard, to be understood, to be loved, to be touched? Are you secure in your own ability to fulfill these needs? The questions go on and on and on and each of them is serious. Never underestimate the weight of basic human needs and desires. If it matters to you, whether it is sex, companionship, love, good banter and/or stimulating conversation, then it is not trivial. Even the most independent loner still has their needs. Wherever you might feel lost or unfulfilled in your life, becoming literate in intimacy can help.

Are you afraid of stagnation and boredom? I know I am. Often a fear of stillness, stagnation, quiet and/or being alone is really a fear of being alone with yourself. If deep down you have trouble liking yourself and enjoying your own company you will do whatever it takes to avoid/escape being on your own. Building intimacy with yourself can help relieve these fears and even help you ultimately overcome them. This can be achieved through cultivating a healthy curiosity about yourself, courting yourself as you would a new lover, getting to know yourself and experiencing the person you are rather than the person you wish you were. If you can learn to appreciate the person you are then you will always find yourself in satisfying company.

Are you making conscious choices? I mean choices, especially major ones, that are grounded in awareness and security rather than desperation and insecurity. For example, how familiar does the following sound?

‘I don’t know what I’ll do without her.’

‘I feel lost without him.’

‘The best part of me was always you.’

‘I can’t go on without you.’

‘I don’t know who I am without you.’

‘What is my purpose without him?’

‘What is my reason to live without her?’

Being in a relationship or being intimate with another person, whether it is your family member, your mentor, or your spouse, should be a conscious choice. When fear, insecurities and/or desperation are the driving force behind choices of how to spend our time and who to spend it with, we will inevitably hurt ourselves in all manners of way and cling onto unhealthy behaviors or situations far too long. How do you leave an unhealthy relationship if your whole sense of identity was at risk of being lost when it ended? When relationships end it is sad and sometimes painful, but it isn’t supposed to feel like amputation. Intimacy, in all its forms, cannot be demanded it can only be invited. So it takes a conscious choice to invite intimacy into our lives as well as to share it with others. It is truly my dream that we all learn to make conscious choices so that we spend time engaged in activities that we actually want to be doing, in places we actually want to be, with people we actually want to be with, and all the while no one, including ourselves, need to suffer for such content.

My hope with what I’ve written today is that I took you on a little hike through the wild expanses of what intimacy is, what it can mean and how it can affect your life. As you see I have much (maybe too much) to say on these matters.

Till next time!

Lovingly yours,

Clara


Love(r) wants to hear from you! Here’s how:

  • Leave a comment below!
  • Email – theintimacyblog (at) gmail.com
  • Twitter – @TheIntimacyBlog

Welcome to Love(r) – So You’re Curious About Intimacy…

Welcome to Love(r)! I am very excited to be writing this and will be even more excited if anyone actually reads it.

As to why I am starting this blog, it seems to me that there is a real need for a resource about intimacy. When researching online, I had trouble finding anything that focused on intimacy to a satisfactory level that did not also have a strong emphasis on traditional marriage or a particular religious view. They likely exist, but I haven’t found them yet. If you know of some, please point me in their direction!

Of course there is nothing inherently wrong with religion and one of it’s favorite institutions, traditional marriage, but what about all the atheist, kinky, and/or non-monogamous people out there? I want them, as well as everyone else, to have a place to explore intimacy and feel honored and included in the process. In the end I concluded, if you feel passionately about something and can’t find what you are looking for, might as well make it yourself. For better or for worse I have a lot to say on the subject.

  • What this blog will strive to include:
    • Frank and open discussions about the good, bad, beautiful and ugly things that can happen in all kinds of relationships
    • Frank and open discussions about sex/sexuality
    • Resources for further education
    • Research from psychological and social studies as much as possible
    • *Answers or advice to those who request it about intimacy, love, relationships, sex, etc
  • What this blog will try not to include:
    • I will try to keep personal anecdotes to a minimum. This isn’t supposed to be a blog about me, and besides, if I wrote too much about myself half of you would be scandalized while the other half would be bored to tears. That being said, I have no shame in sharing my own experiences when it seems relevant or helpful to the topic at hand.
    • Any prescription about what sort of relationships are right, or in what context you should be intimate. I want this to be a resource that is welcoming to everyone as much as possible: whether you are hetero-normative and monogamous, or pan-sexual and polyamorous, whether you want to get married and have children, or if that will never be what you want, or even if you’re asexual and looking to learn how to understand and strengthen your romantic/emotional intimacy with non-sexual partners. In short, I want everyone to feel welcome. My hope is that there will be something for anyone who finds there way here. For the sake of inclusivity and intersectionality, I encourage anyone who reads this to call me out on any biases or ignorance you read. Everyone has their blind spots.
  • Blog posts to look for in the near future:
  • How to contact or follow Love(r):
    • Email Love(r) at theintimacyblog @ gmail.com
    • Follow on Twitter @TheIntimacyBlog
    • Please comment! I would love to hear from you.
    • *I will always ask for permission before using any questions/comments/etc you send me on the blog.
  • Posting schedule
    • Love(r) will be updated for sure every other Tuesday, usually the 2nd and 4th of the month with substantial content.
    • The hope is that every other Tuesday I will be able to publish a less substantial, but just as awesome, post.

If you would like to know more about Love(r) or me, check out the “About” page.

Lovingly yours,

Clara

%d bloggers like this: