I was in the pool yesterday with my girlfriend. My beautiful and lovely girlfriend. And two pair of girls entered the pool with us. Two very different pairs of girls.
A dad and his two daughters (guessing 3 and 5 years old) arrived at the pool. They had on matching dresses over their bathing suits. I watched as dad discussed the pool plans with them. They began taking off their shoes and their dresses in utter delight about getting into the pool. I was touched by the father’s attention and gentle tone. And I had a melancholy moment as I recalled all the times swimming with my kids in the summer, before the divorce. And how, after the divorce, my access to my kids was dramatically limited to two weekends a month.
Again, I was able to pull out of my own distraction to witness the three of them playing in the pool together. Dad and his girls. I leaned into the idea that this was a single-dad living in an apartment in a foreign country (he was speaking a Slavic language to the girls) with his daughters. Then his wife showed up. She brought snacks, sunscreen, and drinks. And, for some reason, she chose not to get in the pool with the family. I was even happier for the dad, now married (of course I knew nothing of their actual relationship, she could’ve been a girlfriend) and his children. An attached family makes me smile. Would my kids have been more giving and empathic like me, had I been able to stay in their lives 100% of the time?
As the family was settling down, another pair of young girls sat down in the pool chairs nearby and began to eat some sort of Whole Foods food bar goodness. (WFM is nearby.) I was aware of their youth and beauty right off. Young women at the start of their adventure out of the family next. I admired their youthful bodies and their easy smiles as they joked and chatted near the pool. I was interested in them. I could not hear their conversation.
And even as I was observing them, I was aware that my beautiful woman was nearby, watching me watching them. I made some random comment, related to a belly button piercing that one of them had. “I always assume pretty women like that are strippers.”
Immediately, I felt ashamed and small for having such a negative thought about these women, just because they were pretty, had a piercing, and were living in an apartment complex. Fact is, I know nothing about these women. I know nothing about their generation or their personal ambitions. For all I knew, they were both in graduate school at UT studying … (I suppose that’s the opposite of stripper, in my mind, also an odd construct.)
Why, when I see pretty women, do I need to classify them? Sure, it’s natural to mentally check off some immediate personal points: attractive to me: yes; smiling and seemingly joyful: yes; proximity giving continuous views of their pleasing physical forms: yes; available: no.
I think our animal brains do this gut check even without our input. Our lizard brain asks: of procreation age: yes; attractive: yes. And in our lizard response, we’d be in pursuit. As a somewhat evolved man, my passion was countermanded by my already satisfied and attached state. Satisfied: in that, I have kids of my own, and no longer wish to bring any more progeny into the world. Attached: in that, I was well-connected and well matched to my new girlfriend, and thus, unavailable for procreative, or recreational sex.
It’s okay to be aroused by sexual chemistry and sexual response to attractive women. If we are unattached it’s okay then, under most public circumstances to engage in banter and discovery. Are they attached? Are they interested? Do they have plans for the rest of the afternoon or evening?
I was happily observing all of this information from my attached-state. Happy for the flow of energy and love that occurs between my girlfriend and me, over and above the sexual flow. Happy not to be seeking a relationship, or sex, or excitement. Happy to see beautiful women nearby. And a bit surprised at my sexist “stripper” dialogue. No all attractive young women with pierced belly buttons are not strippers. But… And this is a new awareness. All young women with pierced belly buttons that I’ve ever seen were strippers. That is, I have seen pierced belly buttons but only on strippers, never with someone I knew. (Man, I hope my 15-yo daughter doesn’t get one, now.)
As a single father, I often see fathers with their kids and wish I’d had more of that. I see beautiful young women and am appreciative for the hit of dopamine and even more appreciative that my girlfriend and I can act of that sexual impulse as we see fit. Desire is a powerful motivator. As an attached man, someone in a monogamous and happy relationship, I am no longer interested in the pursuit. But I still like hanging out at the pool to see the exotic young animals of all forms.
Happy happy, joy joy. Dad dad, and well-satisfied boyfriend.
Back to Dating Again section
- There’s Something Missing
- (Singing) Find Me Somebody to Love
- In Search of the Ideal Woman: to Rescue, Restore, and Ravish
- The Head and the Heart: Getting In-Sync In Love
- My Failure with Online Dating Sites
- Your Sex Is On Fire: The Intoxicating Burn of Love
image: navel dangle, creative commons usage