What makes someone sexy? This week’s guest blogger – Dee Emm Elms – lays down some significant truths about desire, via a really unusual crush. Her post is one of the best things anyone’s ever sent me, and I truly hope you understand why.
I’ve always hated the phrase ‘my other half’ – it implies a lack of completeness about me. That I, on my own, am never quite full or rounded. Not quite enough.
I hate ‘him indoors,’ which implies the kind of comfortable, settled domesticity that I’ve never really felt with anyone.
I’m ambivalent about ‘boyfriend’ and ‘partner’ feels too grown up.
I panic at the thought of a ‘husband.’
‘Boy’ is becoming tired, and not a natural descriptor for someone in their 30s.
Says ‘girl’ on the net. At the age of 30.
‘Mate’ is either too pally or too like an Attenborough documentary, depending on how you interpret it.
‘Lover’ makes me cringe.
Some days he’s my guy, my dude. That dickhead. And often he’s a twat.
But maybe my obsession with the lack of a proper word belies what the actual problem is with any of these statements: the ‘my’ that comes at the front of them.
No one is ever mine, of course.
The hardest thing about using words to make a living is that they’re so pathetically small. The bigger the thing you’re trying to describe, the smaller the words feel when you select them. Describing sex is pretty easy, because it’s so intensely personal. While the word ‘dick’ might mean little to you, when combined with a few more everyday words to create the sentence ‘I spat on his dick‘ – to me it becomes intensely special and deeply arousing. Sex is easy.
Love on the other hand is much, much harder. While I profess to detest overly-sentimental, romantic shit there’s something to be said for a well-placed ‘wind beneath my wings’ or ‘sugar to my coffee’.
They don’t come close to describing the swelling, hair-pulling, scream-into-a-pillow magnitude of the sensation of being in love, but they exist to show us just how hard it is to adequately describe the feeling you have when you’d happily take a bullet for someone at the same time as calling them a ‘dickhead.’
Sex and anxiety
It’s four pm and I’m shaking with panic. A five pm deadline and two for first-thing tomorrow. For the first time ever, one deadline has whizzed past, and now it stares at me from two days ago whispering: “everything you love will crumble, and you, my friend, will fail.”
I sit at my desk ignoring the piles of washing, clutter of papers and an inbox that screams ME! PICK ME!
I breathe quickly and shake, as I stare at the mounting tower of ‘oh God where the hell do I start?’ and worry that I’ve fucked up my life.
So far, so desperately unsexy.
The truth is that much of my life isn’t sexy. I’m sure most of you realise that I don’t spend 90% of my time wanking, with only quick breaks to stock up on cheese sandwiches to give me the energy for my next angry fuck. There are clearly some with that misconception, though it’s mostly dudes who send me dick pics at 8:30 am on a weekday then a follow-up at lunchtime saying ‘r u wet yet?’
Most of the time I’m boring. A lot of the time I’m anxious. And some of the time I’m so busy twitching that I can’t even think about fucking.
My body says ‘you know what would really help you to calm down? A nice relaxing wank’, which sounds lovely but then my brain chips in with ‘but what about all these things? Look at them! Teetering in a huge pile that will one day collapse around you!’ So my body replies ‘OK you’ve got a really good point. Give me ten minutes to hyperventilate and curl in a ball on the floor while I consider this.’
After ten minutes of ball-curling and ragged breaths, just as I’m back in the zone of the functional, the phone will ring and the whole mess starts all over again.
If someone else told me this I’d offer to help them. But if someone offers to help me then my brain gives me more of its pesky chatter and I’m left spinning:
Don’t help me. Your help takes up time. I have no time. NO TIME. The time I am going to spend being helped by you is time taken away from the allocated time I have to do the things and there is NO TIME and one day I will have used up all the time and I’ll be dead and what help will you be then? Hmm?
This is all well and good when it’s my Mum on the phone but when it’s Amazon customer services the whole thing gets a bit awkward.
This long-winded build-up is here to show that when I say I’m stressed, I’m not talking about some mild worries or a couple of nagging concerns at the back of my mind. I mean full-blown, heart-hammering panic which prevents me from reading any text, email or tweet without a kind of swelling nausea because oh God I’ll have to say something now and what if what I say is hopelessly wrong?
It isn’t easily cast aside, overcome, or subject to the kind of help offered by well-meaning friends.
But it can be dampened, and it can – very occasionally – be swept to one side.
Like when he comes home from work and I’m ill and tired and my eyes are brim-full of desperate tears. He says ‘how was your day?’ and I shout ‘FINE!’ over my shoulder, because if I take my eyes off the screen then I’ll have failed and another deadline will fall by the wayside.
So he disappears. And then later, when I’m ragged and miserable and slouching with the weight of everything, he pops back in and says ‘how are you?’ And I say ‘fine’ like I’m not really sure if I am, and I stare at the piles of paper.
He doesn’t ask if he can help – he knows he can’t help any more than he can remove my head and stir around inside it to fix me. So he squeezes me with his massive arms, and lets me bury my face in his neck. It smells horny and masculine and all the things I want to fuck.
Sometimes it doesn’t work – the closeness makes me feel trapped and the idea of pausing even for a five-minute shag sets my heart back to hammering. But sometimes it works, and he strips off my knickers. And as he pulls them off – at just the right moment – I can rip off the terror and anxiety and throw myself into just… wanting.
Feeling the rush of arousal and wanting him to fuck me.
In the middle of a pile of paper. In a tangled ball on the floor. In a mishmash of trembling limbs across my messy desk. It’s a delicious and rare relief – to push out the worry about working and replace it with a desire for him to take me across his knee, belt hard sharp smacks across my arse until it’s glowing red, dip his fingers in my cunt and call me a dirty girl, then flip me over and fuck me while I cry with shaking desire.
It’s not need – it’s so much better than need. I ‘need’ food, and money. Without these things I’d struggle to survive, so reaching out to grab them is instinctive: like sneezing when something tickles your nose.
I don’t need him: I want him. And here’s where I bring it back to how inadequate words are. Just as they’re pitifully bad at conjuring the exact nature of a full-blown anxiety attack, so they limp pathetically across the page when I try to conjure the chest-aching love that I have for this man. Not because he stops me from panicking, but because he doesn’t try to. He doesn’t push or question or offer solutions: he just is. There. Solid and warm and patient and oh-so-deliciously ready to put his swollen cock in me at exactly the moment I want it the most.
It’s a want rather than a need because he doesn’t ‘fix’ me or ‘save’ me: I’d survive/cope/live/work without him. If he weren’t there the panic would still be around – washing over me one minute and fucking off suspiciously the next, leaving me worrying when it’d come back and contemplating whether it’d be all the stronger for having had a short break and… damn. There it is again. It’s been twenty minutes since I started writing this and where does the fucking time go? I didn’t even get to tell you how he… never mind. I’ve got shit to be getting on with.
Here’s the obligatory link to Mind.org, which you have to include on anything that references mental health. And if you think you might have anxiety problems, and you’re thinking ‘ah but I’m just a naturally stressy person though and I’m just so busy and shit’ then here’s a thing I wrote for The Cocktail Hour which might be useful. Or might not. I don’t know. Oh God sorry I’m such a twat. And here’s a thing by Dean Burnett in the Guardian about social anxiety, which is sparked by slightly different things but no less tremblingly awful.
I don’t want to depress you, but none of us gets to live happily ever after. It’s not just cynics like me who can’t sit still for five minutes: none of us does.
I talk about sex myths a lot – the idea that faking orgasms makes you a bad person, or that you can’t be a feminist and suck dick – but some of the most pernicious myths out there are around relationships themselves.
Happily ever after
Once upon a time there lived a little girl. She was slightly scruffy, very enthusiastic, and if you wanted to make her day you could either tell her she was great at ballet (she wasn’t) or offer to let her read aloud from her book of ‘101 jokes that only children find funny.’ If you asked her what she wanted, she’d probably have said ‘a pony’, but a rainbow-coloured one, because no one wants an ordinary old pony. She believed that one day her prince would come.
Years later, that little girl grew up to be a teenager. The rainbow pony was replaced with an overwhelming desire for a black motorbike, and the skill to ride it. If you wanted to make her day you’d tell her that the purple streaks in her hair made her look a bit witchy, or that – despite being nearly six foot tall – she was graceful like a ballerina (she wasn’t). She believed that one day her prince would come. This time, though, she was a bit more realistic. She thought the prince would be unlikely to wear armour, and imagined him instead in tight black jeans and a t-shirt that clung deliciously to his stomach. He’d probably play the guitar, and read Wittgenstein.
Now, though, that girl is thirty. You can make her day surprisingly easily – with a pint of cider or an offer to do her washing up. She loves fucking, reading, and being comforted when she thinks she’s made a dreadful faux pas, and she fancies the kind of guys who sit in dark rooms writing computer code. She knows there are no princes.
‘Settle down’ forever and ever
Of course there aren’t any princes – even William and Harry are probably twats behind closed doors (or sometimes even in front of them). Besides, I don’t actually want the kind of idealised partner the fairy tale offers. Someone riding into my life to sweep me off my feet, removing all of my responsibilities and replacing them with some a saccharine, loved-up suburban ideal makes me as uncomfortable as it does sceptical. If my prince actually did come, I’d be less likely to fall at his feet than to ask him what he was selling.
And yet the myth of a ‘happy ever after’ lives on in the way we talk about relationships. People have always told me – since I was that tiny girl doing rubbish pirouhettes in my tutu – that one day I’d ‘settle down’. Which, when you think about it, is a pretty odd phrase – implying that my entire life up until the ‘settling down’ point has been an irrelevant stew – nothing more than the bubbling experiment that forms me into a complete human being. One day when I’m not too hot, not too cold, and certainly not too adventurous, I will pledge my life to someone else who’ll live out their days with me in a tranquil, almost opiate joy.
Well, bollocks to that. Because even if it were desirable (which it’s not, in my opinion – imagine a lifetime of cotton-wool calm), it’s not even close to the truth. I’ve been in a few monogamous relationships and – while wonderful, enjoyable, loving things – not one of them would ever be described as ‘settled’, or even moving towards that.
If pushed, I’ll say we’ve sometimes been ‘comfortable’, in which ‘comfortable’ could be defined as ‘haven’t had any blazing rows/worries about money/collapsing bathroom ceilings and job losses and panic attacks’ for a month or two. But even with this level of comfort – even if you love each other – you’re bound to hit a dodgy patch one day that has you shouting at each other in the kitchen over who forgot to buy the milk. Or, to pick a less trivial issue, even if you feel like you’ve ‘settled down’, a day will come when you meet someone who isn’t your partner, but who makes your chest tight and your stomach flip and you wonder ‘Oh God Oh God what if…?’
And we’ll all be sixteen forever…
These examples are just a couple out of many things that happen on a daily basis. And yet the word ‘settled’ invites us to keep striving for something permanent and tranquil – as if any relationship is a lake, and if we wait long enough the fish will stop swimming and the insects stop landing, the wind will stop blowing and eventually the surface will be smooth like glass.
Well, it isn’t fucking true. There’s no such thing as ‘settling down’. There’s deciding, and committing, and loving, and there’s a sense of security and relief that comes from not having to wade through crap responses to your online dating profile any more, but ‘settling down’? For ever and ever amen? I don’t think it’s real.
If we pretend it is then we end up with billions of disappointed humans who strive for relationship tranquility, when what they should actually be striving for is enjoyment. Love, passion, fun, all that jazz. Sometimes it’s calm, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s settled, and sometimes it’s shaky and nervewracking and the kind of thing that keeps you awake staring into the dark and wondering how you can make things right.
There are no princes: only humans. And I’m still quite shit at ballet.
For me, sex is one of the most important parts of a relationship. It’s up there with trust, laughter, and an ability to tolerate each other’s excessive flatulence after curry night. Sex – if it’s good enough – is often a key motivator to help me fall for someone in the first place.
The idea of a long-term relationship with someone who didn’t share at least a fair proportion of my kinks makes me desperately sad. But in the past when I’ve raised this with friends I’ve been told that sex isn’t everything – it pales into insignificance when you compare it to the mighty force of love.
I was doubtful, and I still am doubtful that sex – for me – will ever take a back seat in terms of my priorities. But for this week’s guest blogger it’s done just that. I’m delighted to have her here because her perspective is so different to my own, and I’d love to know if other people have struggled with similar things – have you ever fallen in love and had to make a similar choice?
Someone else’s story: choosing love over kink
I’m dirty. I’m filthy. I’m a slut. My mind is constantly wandering between kinky fantasies where I’m being used and abused and these fantasies make my cunt throb.
For years this was what happened to me: I was in relationships with guys that made my unspeakable fantasies a reality. I was whipped, beaten and peed on into a sweaty, cum-covered mess. I knelt before relative strangers and begged for their worst and they gave it. I submitted to harsh experienced Masters who knew how to make me tremble without a single touch, could make me cum from a well delivered spanking and always left me wanting more. I “knew” I would be a dirty girl till the day I died.
I was happy to be treated this way.
So how merely 3 years from my last spanking have I ended up married to a guy who thinks doggy style is kinky, who could never speak during sex and is happy with once a week missionary?
No I didn’t run out of things to do. I drip at the thought of being roughly taken up the arse but know I will never know the feeling. There is so many scenes I’m yet to try. I’m still submissve in my soul.
No I don’t think I can change him. No I don’t cheat. If you had asked me before I met him if I could give up filth I would have sworn it was impossible. So can a self identified filthy slut be happy with a ‘vanilla’ guy?
The answer is yes. I’m happy. I love him more than I knew I could and know this is the forever after people dream about. As sappy as that sounds but when you know you know!
I think it’s all about priorities. Mine changed the first time he kissed me. Love. Family. Happiness. They are more important to me than filthy sex.
Did I compromise? Am I going to resent him in 10 years? Who knows! I don’t think so. My life is great. He is great.
He knows how to make me smile at the end of a really shit day.
He knows when to shut up and leave me alone.
He knows my favourite bands, books, food etc.
He makes my family his family and me part of his.
He gets me in a way no one ever had.
So I don’t tremble into subspace with a look. Sex is functional. It scratches an itch. It made my child. I’m not saying he’s bad in bed – I’m saying we aren’t sexually compatible. Somewhere there are girls who just want a quiet fuck on a Saturday night – should he be with one of them?
We all know someone or had a relationship that ended because they had different views on religion, family (usually whether to have one or not) or other significant issues. Is sex one of these issues? Or, more importantly, should it be? Do we put to much emphasis on sexual tastes and dismiss otherwise perfect relationships? We all know that relationships are about give and take. We put up with annoying habits (the snoring that brings the roof down, the dirty clothes on the bedroom floor, the lateness – and that’s just my own habits). We agree to disagree on many things.
Sex is great, but surely love has to be more important. I don’t think it would be a very healthy state of mind to choose a sexual relationship over a loving one. Of course you can have both – I am sure many people do – but if that’s not what fate has in store for you then you play the hand you’re given.
So I am happy in my ‘normal’ sex life. You may call it boring, you may say it can never work but every night I curl up next to a guy I love. If I threw our relationship away for dirty sex maybe I would never again find this heart stopping love.
So I will continue to rub myself furiously to thoughts of what I could have had done to me if the love of my life had been a filthy guy, but I will continue to love my life.
So would you give up filthy sex for the person you love?
I’d love to know what you think – is sex (and specifically the type of sex) a vital part of any relationship, and a potential ‘dealbreaker’ when you’re thinking about who to spend the rest of your life with? Are you in a relationship where you’ve reached a happy compromise? As with many sexual things, I think this is going to be different for everyone, so if you’ve struggled with this before I’d love to know how you dealt with it, and what you’ve decided your priorities and compromises are.