Sexless in the City

Sometimes reading romance novels doesn’t quite prepare you for a love life...

For this 30-year-old urbanite, love is always a misadventure: The Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, the 5% Man, and the Ad Weasel. These and many other men wander in and out of her life — but never her bed.

Monday, June 27, 2005

A reader-letter marathon

Dahlings, the output of your reader feedback amazes me, so I have decided to devote today’s entire post to responding to some of your more-interesting letters ...
Yes i read the ridiculous Rolling Stone Article ... however i do get rolling stone for free since i wanted you to know that i dont really support the magazine at all.

i didnt realize there was a big virginity movement.
Anna sez: You and me both! I think it’s probably been there all along, it just hasn’t gotten much press. But you know, after that election and now that Lauren Winner’s book came out, I think people are just more interested in these things.
and yeah maybe im assuming but uh. you’re a christian right? it would be hard to fathom otherwise.
I am a Jesus freak, yes. Otherwise, maintaining the standards I do would be pretty foolhardy. Heck, it probably seems rather foolhardy anyway!
I too really just want marriage and its hard getting to girls who think im the ambiguous christian guy without stating my intentions yes i would like to take you out to see if you're the kind of person that i think you are so i can decide if further down the road i would like to get married to you. that sort of thing is a little awkward as you can imagine so it doesnt happen.
I could see how that might tend to queer a lot of girls (in the old-fashioned sense of the word, that is). Your use of punctuation could also hurt you there — I mean the way you let that sentence run on, for a second I thought you meant you’d like to marry me, though I’m sure you really meant that “you” more generally. Didn’t you?
are you really on unemployment? and if so howz that working out?
Yes, really. I’ve even collected all the unemployment funds I was entitled to. (So if you happen to be feeling generous ... drop a few in the PayPal bucket, yes? ;)) At least all this time at home has helped me practice on my baking skillz. Which I’m still convinced may be the key to snaring — er, finding — a man.
thats all i have for write now and as you may have noticed my name is Still Waiting.

and im also a writer which by now you may have guessed. i just never ventured into the world of blogging and my net skills aren’t so great which may help explain my so-so looking webpage of my writings.

well i expect to hear from you with this long ass email i have put out. and so ill have something to look forward to while cutting my dad’s grass and thinking about when ill be going to new york.

(Laughs nervously) New York? Pshaw... Really, Still Waiting, I don’t think you’d find much of interest here. Just a lot of regular hussies running round and sweating buckets and buckets of sweat seeing as how it’s summer here, and unlike Arizona it mostly ain’t a dry heat.

Well now, see what you’ve gone and done? You’ve given me run-ons. Dear me. I should take another letter.
At the risk of looking like just another pervert---so you don’t masturbate or *anything*?

---Not a Pervert
Not lately, no. You see the thing is, Not a Pervert, why would I really want to masturbate anyway? To get off, I suppose. Which maybe I’d want to do because I was feeling lonely and horny (not a difficult thing to feel when it’s the summer after all!). But what does that tell you right there? Such a practice would actually be a substitutionary activity since I don’t have a real live man around to delight me (and I him). Presumably if I had the choice between masturbating and having actual sex — with its potential for surprise and the unexpected — I’d choose the latter.

But some people like to think masturbation is a good way to practice — sort of like the urban legend whereby cohabitation is a way to practice marriage (though countless studies — and not just “Christian” ones show it’s actually linked to a greater likelihood of divorce). OK, so maybe you learn a little about what makes you feel good. But that’s where I as a Jesus freak have to stop. You see, I’m not supposed to be having sex for me. I’m supposed to be having sex as a way to show my husband how much I love him; as a way to tangibly embody the self-donating love that was most vividly shown by Jesus’ life and death. At least that’s the Christian story. The way this whole approach to sex is supposed to work is that my husband is likewise focused on what best achieves my pleasure. With both of us focused on each other like, we’ll learn and grow and probably make an awful lot of mistakes and find how selfish we are ... but along the way we’ll probably have some pretty incredible moments too.

So now let’s come back to masturbation. If what I’ve just described is the sex I someday hope to have, is masturbation really going to help me prepare for that? No. In fact, it’s probably going to undermine such an approach to sex, as I’ll already be habituated into thinking chiefly about my own pleasure and body and not what makes my husband happy.

But the real trouble with masturbation, I’ve found, is not so much what you’re doing with your body as with your mind. And fantasy is the way that you grease the tracks, so to speak. Fantasy works like editorial cartoons — in big, dramatic swooshes, intense scenarios. And somehow the thing that worked last night doesn’t work so well tonight. So I’ve gotta change it a little; ramp things up. Sure I started out imagining married sex, as Sharlet’s article mentioned, but that didn’t work too long. Soon I was making up scenarios that involved things I would never want to do in real life. But maybe if I kept that up long enough, I’d start to think that was the hottest kind of sex. And suddenly that ultra-sexy sex, the promise of an even-better orgasm, has become my god, the thing at the center of my world.

And you know what? It’s precisely in that desperate, grasping place that sex is likely to fail me. Most truly ecstatic experiences, after all, come about as a kind of surprise. There is a quality of dependence to them. We can set the right conditions, but we can’t ensure the magic will really happen; it chooses to visit it us in its time, its own way. But if all that I can think about’s the orgasm, I’m going in completely the wrong direction — toward an increasingly desperate, mechanized kind of sex that is dehumanizing me at every step. Which as Read Schuchardt pointed out, is just what’s happened to Hugh Hefner.

If that’s what masturbation gets me, no thanks. But that’s a heavy note on which to end, so I’ll take one more reader letter.
I read about you and I checked out your site and I wanted to ask you to stop being so awesome...if you don’t cease and desist then I may fall in love with you.

Ok, but in all seriousness, thanks for the inspiration. And why aren’t there more girls like you around this city?

-Goofy Texan in the City
Dear Goofy:
Thanks for the fan-love, er, threats of love. If you’re a Jesus freak in the city, you might want to check out times and places where we gather. I know my church has a lot of ways for people to meet their fellow freaks.

Another thing you might consider is that you’re not responsible for your birth. Your existence ultimately rests on things beyond your control. Since you believe in God, that means you probably can accept that it’s His “problem” that you’re hear that (I assume) you’d like to marry. An interesting book you might enjoy is one I recently read: God is a Matchmaker by Derek Prince.