A few weeks ago I was sitting in the chair at my salon, talking to my stylist. She was showing me a picture of old books about sex with ridiculous titles. I don’t even remember what they were, except they were pretty damn funny sixty years down the road. We started making jokes along the lines of “Things they don’t tell you about sex when you’re starting out,” including: despite the name, you don’t actually blow. It gave us a laugh.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been thinking about the weird things we think about sex. What those old books said, “women who desire are sluts,” “oral sex will give you diseases,” seem so uniformed and silly from today’s perspective, right? As I worked my way through the Sex Surge®, I had to examine what I believed about sex, desire, ‘sluts,’ sensuality, sexual expression, etc. I really had to open up my own ideas and beliefs about what was ‘real’ or ‘good’ or ‘useful.’ But opening up has also left me with some conflicting ideas.
Of course, conflicting ideas aren’t bad. It is a hallmark of intellectual and emotional maturity that a person can hold two conflicting ideas and see them both as useful, even if they seem to undermine each other. (Like, seriously, isn’t that the entirety of adulthood?) Sex and relationships are so complicated, of course things will conflict. Like this:
I believe that foreplay is at least half the partner’s responsibility (or equally divided among participants!).
I also believe that my orgasm is my responsibility.
I believe we should have all the sex we want.
I also believe that if you’re partnered in the Sex Surge and want to stay that way, sometimes you gotta lower your expectations.
I believe that no one is a slut.
I also believe that sometimes too many partners is problematic.
I believe that open marriages and secondary partners should be accepted in society.
I also believe a lot of people can’t handle the complexities of that.
I believe that desire is not bad or ‘sinful.’
I also believe desire can get you in a lot of trouble if you don’t know how to use it skillfully.
I 1000% believe that chores and kid stuff should be equally divided (research says this leads to more sex; I would agree!).
I also believe that sometimes having the tension of more traditional gender roles leads to greater sexual tension.
I believe we should speak as much truth as possible about our desires and needs in bed.
I also believe we don’t always need to be 100% detailed about our fantasies (but sometimes we do- ah! conflict!).
I believe mid-life can cool your libido.
I also believe that every woman still has a fire deep within her that can be activated (and may express itself sexually).
I do not believe sex is necessary for living well.
But it sure feels like it when you’re in the Sex Surge.
Wearing both beliefs like a mismatched pair of shoes.
I guess the thing about conflicting beliefs is that I both want and need to keep an open mind for my clients and just for life. Some women need more sex outside of their marriage. Some women need to scale back sexual expectations to reach their long-term goals. Each situation I encounter is different, and I want to serve the needs of the situation, not the needs of my own ego or beliefs.
And, honestly, I just think having conflicting beliefs is part of mid-life. At this age, we know life isn’t perfect or balanced- it’s far more like being on a see-saw (hopefully we’re not swinging too wildly on it!). I think the thing I want to say most is that if you’re in a conflicted place, about whatever, it’s okay. Especially if it’s due to the Sex Surge, it’s really okay. And that sometimes the answer will become clear, and sometimes it won’t. But holding two conflicting ideas at the same time isn’t bad, it’s just complex.
If you’re dealing with conflicting beliefs that are troubling, sit with these questions:
- When you’re in a place of conflict or confusion, what do you know works for you to figure things out?
- How much capacity do you have to hold conflict within yourself (some of us have more capacity than others, and it’s okay if you don’t have a lot)?
- What helps you stay with the process instead of getting pulled down by it?
- What does your heart say?
- What does your wisdom tell you?
I don’t want to gloss over the fact that conflicting beliefs and confusion are hard, because they are sometimes. I suppose my biggest belief in all of this is that it’s okay to hold conflicting beliefs, especially when it comes to complex issues like sex, relationships, desire, feelings, and growth. We need to have a broad range of ideas and options to find solutions that work for us. And sometimes conflicting beliefs are the only way to handle the complexity of life.