Johns blog continues this week in the subject of sex and how it feels to be a man today within the context of this. It may contain content not suitable for children. More PG than R. Just to update as well as I am aware that people have not followed johns blog from session one and so maybe dont know who or what this is.
Johns blog is an anonymous blog from a male collegue and friend about his experience as a man today and how he expresses how he feels. It is open and I thank John for being so honest with this. I hope to host more blogs with both men and women from various backgrounds and experiences but always with more than a hint of mental health and emotion. I hope you enjoy! Always available free on a sunday at www.archibaldpsychotherapy.co.uk and then monday on @alanarchibaldpsychotherapy.
Where should I start this week? I felt an inevitability that we would eventually end up here. The often joked about, embarrassed silences, red faced chit chat that ends in either awkward moments or charged conversation. Yes I’m going round the houses of sex to avoid talking about it it seems... its difficult isn’t it? To have a frank conversations of the ins and outs of sex, so to speak. Strange it seems that way as it infiltrates all of our lives and without it we would not be here. I guess because it’s more than just a random biological act of function and we can sometimes, hopefully more often than not, gain pleasure from its act.
Is it any different gender wise? How can it not be. The possibilities are endless of course and too many to count and cover today. Instead I will just cover my experience and what it means to me personally as a heterosexual man.
The first thing that comes to my mind is that my opinion about sex comes from a long line of history, events, connections and experiences. When I think of what sex means to me then it is very much dependant, I think, on my experience, knowledge, things that have happened to me and around me in short. The way I perform, the way I receive and the way I adapt. Sex began for me, like many men I guess as a first time. And before the first time was the imagined first time. Society (i.e.: my friends and some not so good friends) told me, it seemed to me, that I needed to have sex and the quicker it happened and the younger I was the better. That as a male this was part of the initiation into being a man. I think in more primitive times, and in some cultures even today, something marks the journey a man makes into adulthood. Boy to man as it were. It began before the act itself as an idea. Initially impregnated into my mind by society, media (although less so when I was growing up as media was restricted to newspapers, 4 TV channels, and gossip in the school yard, and maybe the odd book from the library that you could manage to sneak past the disapproving eyes of the librarian (who seemed to know exactly what your were thinking and she thought it was wrong). The embarrassment of an unexpected erection at a saucy romantic film while sat as a family carefully and quickly hidden with a cushion. As I was saying, as I have the tendency to wander, everything that happened before sex happens for the first time has an influence on what is to come.
I also find it difficult to write this as a man (perhaps a sexist point) as every word becomes innuendo and much like a carryon film.
So at the beginning I reached a point that I had finally found a girl stupid enough to want to be with me (at the grand old age of 23) and we were dating. This was as close to sex as I had been (bar a few light petting incidents at the cinema and once with a girl named Margaret at the local swimming baths which ended rather disappointingly for all concerned). So for me as a male there was a mixture of feelings involved. Firstly there was a part of me that was saying to myself, ‘Finally, after tonight, you can call yourself a man and get on with your life’ and part of me that said,’ my god I really have no idea of what I am doing here but I know that I feel comfortable enough with this girl (we will call her Pat) that she will be the one to guide me into manhood. There was no thought however that this was a deep and meaningful experience. No expectations that she was ‘the one’ or that I even cared if we survived the aftermath of whatever was to occur that night. It might seem cold and calculating but I really just wanted to experience it and get the first time over with and move on. I didn’t think Pat looked too bad and she was what my friends would have considered an 7 or 8 so I was comfortable with my decision. That you see if where I was at being 23, not deeply emotional and ready to connect to my soul mate, ready to have a go at what I had longed for in many a year previously.
Sex then for me started as a bit of fun that ended in me feeling content that I had lasted longer than 15 minutes without coming and Pat seemed vaguely satisfied. That was it for the first time. A safe missionary, maybe a bit of doggy style, the obligatory (at least in my mind at the time) oral sex but all calculated and not really enjoying the moment and savouring the closeness of Pat and my physical awakening. That was my experience that I could finally say to anyone of my mates that asked the day after, ‘yes I did it and yes she wasn’t bad I suppose’ would be the line I thought. Now that is how it started, shallow and meaningless in the true emotional sense.
What I have learned over time is that sex can be anything you want it to be really. After a failed marriage and numerous sexual partners behind me I have come to realise that sex can be a real moment of connection between me and another person. A moment that can define a partnership, a moment to define how you feel about the other person in a fanfare of passionate fireworks that ignite each other like nothing you have seen over the London eye at new year, a caring and slow burn of connection that allows you to show how much you adore and appreciate them in caresses and kisses that praise there very being. Or it can be a quickie with a complete stranger drunk after a night out that ends up on the heath and just seems to end the night nicely with a story to tell the lads the next day.
The pressure though to perform, to please your partner, to have the perfect body and to be the Karma Sutra king is always somewhere in the background. Not that I think every woman expects this but as a man that is the pressure that is expected by me. The little voice in the back of my head that says ‘you should be like Ron Jeremy (minus the hair obviously) not pee wee Herman’. It feels like anywhere you look now the pressure to perform is there staring you in the face. On the cover of ‘a popular woman’s magazine’ 10 places your man should know about to make you scream or on the cover of a popular men’s magazine ‘exercises to make you last all night’. Sex has the fun sucked right out of it by this relentless pressure it feels. As a man now in his late forties I’m just glad I still can and do have sex. Now it’s a mixture of emotionally important moments that do actually mean something to me and allow me to feel connected to the other person and important in their life, to some, yes insignificant and purely physical experiences that are mainly about enjoying myself and with little thought about the actual woman in front of me (or on top).
It is hard then to be a man today and be honest about these things. Yes a man thinks about sex a lot, people might say that they are programmed to by society, history and misogynistic indoctrination, but there are also ways in which sex is one of the few ways a man can show how he feels in a real and deeply connected way. A way that I have been able to show a woman I cared about that I loved every part of her. That when I caressed her legs and down to her feet it wasn’t actually because I liked her feet (because I really don’t like feet) but that I knew she didn’t like her feet and I wanted her to see that it was okay and to feel desired in her entirety. Now this is just my opinion and feelings. It is one man’s view and feelings on it and not every mans, but it is mine and I hope that it hasn’t been too embarrassing and cringe worthy.