One of the toughest aspects of living through the Sex Surge is dealing with our feelings of sexual attraction and desire. Especially if those feelings are not for our primary partner.
Often there is a sense of aliveness, beauty, and escape that comes along with the attraction to another person. And those feelings are pretty damn potent. Honestly, those feelings are pretty damn potent even if you’re not in the Sex Surge. Plenty of mid-life people have affairs for those reasons alone.
But there is something that is particularly attractive about the FF – the Fuckable Friend or Forbidden Fruit. (This is what I call the desired person in the Sex Surge.) There is something about them that will always make them awesomer than anyone else. I think this holds true for just general ‘mid-life affairs’ as well.
The FF will always see you for who you are today.
When I was going through the Surge, I had an FF. He was a guy I worked with, and he was attractive to me on a variety of levels. His intellect was sharp, he was conventionally attractive (which, really, was not my usual style), he lived in a world I was curious about, had an understanding of Life that I wanted to know more about, and there was something that, intuitively, felt delicious about him. (Intuitively meaning, I still cannot quite put my finger on what it was.)
We were friends…friendly? Ugh, still can’t label that adequately. We chatted and were honest and gently vulnerable with each other. All of our interactions added to my attraction.
But the best thing about him was how he saw me and treated me. He saw me for who I was at that point in my life.
He knew I was a mother, but he did not see me as a mother.
He knew I was a wife, but he did not see me as a wife.
He knew I was a social worker, but he did not see me as that job title.
He knew I was a daughter/homemaker/entrepreneur/health coach…
but he did not see me as any of those things.
Even if he did see me as those things, what he reflected back to me was Joanna of that moment.
Joanna who was smart, strong, laughter-filled, patient, kind, curious, and a fellow music enthusiast.
He had not seen any of the difficulties, darkness, crying, pain, or growth I had been through.
He simply saw me as I was that day, in that place, and he accepted me as all those things.
It was inherent; I did not have to prove any of them.
And being seen like that felt really fucking good.
It was being seen without the difficult stories my husband knew.
It was being seen without any knowledge of my (very) poor mothering moments.
It was being seen without the embarrassment of food poisoning (you know, how much more disgustingly intimate can we get than the food poisoning experience?).
It was being seen without the images of my junior high awkwardness.
It was being seen without any care for my failings.
This is why the FF or potential affair person will always be awesomer than anyone else: they see you as you are now. No history attached. Only who you are now. That is where they begin from.
And to be seen that way feels so. very. good.
It is almost addicting, in many ways.
::: ::: ::: :::
This, of course, is the whole problem. It feels good to be seen like this. And we want more of it. Which can lead to stupid choices.
[Important Aside: I am not against extra-marital affairs. I think, in some cases, they are necessary for the full growth of the individual. But I also think there are a lot of questions you have to ask yourself before you go down that road. In this case, ‘stupid’ choices are ‘unnecessarily destructive’ choices.]
Wanting more of that feeling is exactly where the answer is to dealing with it: where can you be seen like this? Who will see you like this (besides the FF)?
In my case, I asked my husband to try seeing me a little bit less like Joanna He’s Been with for Fifteen Years, and a little more like the woman I was before we had kids. It was weird, and a little awkward at times, but it did help (for both of us, actually). And I made a couple of new friends, which also helped. They see me in this “Joanna of Now” way.
As I’ve thought about this post and written it over the last few days, I was reminded of how good it feels to be recognized, to be seen as we are, now. And how not being recognized is an unmet need that can lead to a lot of pain- and to affairs of all sorts.
No matter where we are in our attraction or Sex Surge, we have to take a few moments to breathe and ask: what is it I really, deeply want? Answering this will lead us back to our real truth, time and time again.