When you build a relationship with a partner you begin to learn things. You adapt. You get stuck on old fights or conversations. You ask for what you want. And still… We get disappointed. It’s part of the human process. Growing. Evolving. It is the only way to survive as a couple. [If you are poly, that’s fine, the ideas in this post will still apply to your multiple partners.]
Tiny Signals of Desire
We express our desire and love for another person in many ways. Sex is a small fraction of those encouragements and connective impulses we share with our significant other. These impulses are like poem ideas.
A word, a thought, an image triggers my impulse to write a poem.
a. i stop everything and write the poem
b. i make a note of the idea (write it down, or grab it on my phone) so I can hopefully come back to it later
c. let the idea pass on by (“That was interesting,” I say in my inner voice. “If it is significant it will come up again.”)
d. What is this “impulse” you are talking about?
In our everyday lives my partner and I send love notes, images, memes, logistical details about our dogs, and other stuff. We both love getting what I fondly refer to as a “love tap.” Just a PING to tell you I’m thinking about you. Our continuous and positive interactions build rapport, trust, and playfulness, and strengthens our bond. We feel more secure with a person who is unafraid to express their joy and affection. If gives both partners a boost to give or receive a love note. A warm fuzzy is always a welcome distraction.
About Sex, However…
Sex can be another tricky part of relationships that requires a bit more attention. A ping might be:
“I’m feeling sexy.”
“You make me hot.”
“I’m free for lunch, let’s meet a our place for a quickie.”
“You’re the sexiest woman I’ve ever met.”
Those are pretty easy to decipher. The more subtle “pings” can be missed, misinterpreted, and thus a minor waver in “the force” of the partnership.
These might be:
“What are you doing after work?”
“Do you have plans on Saturday?”
While my partner may be attempting a pre-planning moment for an encounter, I might feel these as Ambiguous Pokes rather than Warm Fuzzies. In my mind, “do you have plans” means (or used to mean) I have a project I need your help on. Or, I want to go to Costco and I could use your help. Both are downers. I might hesitate before answering. I might ask a follow-up question. “Do you have something you need help on this Saturday?”
My partner may have been wanting to secure a window for what I call “The Luxury of Time Together.” But, in my mind, I was about to b assigned a chore that was going to take a good chunk (maybe) of my Saturday.
How We Find Our Rhythm
Recently I experienced a near miss with my partner. I was in a bit of a randy mode on a weekend. She was telling me about an article she read about kissing and how we should include more kissing in our relationship. I heartily agreed.
I was in the kitchen preparing my second cup of coffee (decaf) and putting the finishing touches on my concoction, as my partner came around the corner and said, “We could do food later,” as she kissed me with intention. I missed the signal. I was really excited about both her, kissing, and my coffee. In that split second my coffee fetish won the moment and my girlfriend was rebuffed.
The wonderful part (having an ever-more-secure partnership) she expressed her disappointment at being missed. I was able to stop. Replay the moment in my head and give her a retelling. Not a defense. A “Here’s what was going on in my mind when you said and did that.”
As we wrapped up the REJOIN, we both committed to listening and offering more tiny signals. Kisses. Love notes. And the ever-elusive “I have an idea… for right now.” The happy ending was our conversation turned back to the matter at hand, the luxury of an unscheduled weekend morning and … Well, we both got lucky.
Staying On the Dance Floor
Relationships are like learning a new dance. Each partner has a different past, a different way of asking for things, and a different way of making love. That’s part of the joy of human relationships. In my experience, if you stay with a partner for a long enough time, you work out many of the miscues and find ways to build new mutually agreed upon signals, languages, and “hey, I’m hot for you right now” opportunities.
As a long-term couple, we can align on our intentions and our schedules more easily than in an early or casual relationship. We have time and availability on our side. The dance is no less important. And there’s one more part to it that I’d like to illuminate.
There are two partners in any given human interaction. In terms of sex, there are three possible status states for making an intimate moment happen.
- a single partner is motivated – that partner initiates
- a single partner is preoccupied or focused on other priorities
- both partners are hot and ready
Number 2, 1 motivated person and 1 distracted person has two states as well, making it the more nuanced part of the equation that gets a couple into the sack. In the second option, the preoccupied partner can be in three states of potential:
- driven to complete some other task, project, or creative task
The open state gives the “moment” a great chance of culminating in sex. The flexible state says “Well, give me some juice to raise my temperature and we’re in.” The driven state says, “Sorry, sweetheart, I’m on my way out the door to finish that song I was working on yesterday.”
Here’s the harder part to remember. All three of these states are acceptable. A NO is not a rejection when it is really a matter of energy and priority.
That said, if the priorities are ALWAYS away from the loving embrace of the couple, there is something else at play. But, if the couple is in the process of building trust, passion, and caring attention, the “no” merely represents a moment in time with the two people were OUT OF SYNC. Please, don’t mistake my “no, but…” for rejection. And if I have enough mindfulness and DO pick up the message you are sending, my response should sound something like this:
“No, but I will be done by 3 pm today, and I can reserve some of my mojo for later on.”
That’s a win-win. I have a project I am really excited about. The “no” to sex is not about sex, desire, or my passion for you. Without the “but…” it can feel like more of a rejection. When a “join” is added to the “but” with an offer or idea for reciprocation, then we’re doing a waltz together. We will always meet up after a few more rounds of the dance.
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