So I wrote this letter to ‘Caitlin a year ago‘. It was a rather brilliant method (if I say so myself…) to turn my boggled confusion into something of clarity.
Or rather: I was in a monogamous ‘long-term’ relationship (bunny ears because long-term means more than a month in respect to the ‘relationships’ I’ve had – more bunny ears because, really, how accurate is the word ‘relationship’ to define going on like… 5 or 6 dates…).
And that’s pretty much it. And you might be sitting there thinking to yourself, Caitlin, where is the rest of that sentence? How can being in a relationship be so confusing to you?
There were like a bazillion reasons.
SIDENOTE: As much as I try to avoid directly associating those from my personal affairs and sexy times with this here said website, sometimes, it’s just gotta happen. Like pants. Who really wants to wear those things. But, sometimes, they just gotta happen.
FINISHED THOUGHT OF ABOVE SIDENOTE: I am a lover. I consciously and actively live every day attempting to just love everyone. If I’ve had a spirited debate, soap opera drama, messy one-night-stands (etc) with someone in the past, I currently hold just as much respect and care for those people as much as I do my grandmother… Who thinks I’m in school to be a doctor… CONCENTRATE CAITLIN.
CONCLUSION: Any suggestions of men/women/creatures/beings/unicorns in my blog are only suggested in a positive and jubilant manner. DONE.
Anyways. I’m going to get up close and personal about my love life, so… Get comfy.
The one thing that really fucked with me in this relationship was the concept of ‘talk intimacy’.
Now, I talk. If I need to. Sometimes I’m even pretty decent at holding a conversation. One person even called me funny.
But what really makes me super uncomfortable, is forced conversational intimacy. Or, as Esther Perel calls it, ‘talk intimacy’.
“[…] the emphasis on ‘talk intimacy’ is nonetheless problematic, for a number of reasons. The hegemony of the spoken word has veered into a female bias that has, for once, put men in a position of inferiority. Men are socialized to perform, to compete, and to be fearless. The capacity to express feelings is not a prized attribute in the making of American manhood […] When it comes to loving relationships, ‘talk intimacy’ inevitably leaves many men at a loss.”
So, what? Are men just fucked for intimacy? Do chicks just have to grin and bear the fact that their vulnerability might not be reciprocated by their male counterparts?
“In the absence of a more verbal narrative of the self, the body becomes a vital language, a conduit for emotional intimacy. […] it is not sufficiently appreciated that the erotic realm also offers men a restorative experience for their more tender side. The body is our original mother tongue, and for a lot of men it remains the only language for closeness that hasn’t been spoiled. Through sex, men can recapture the pure pleasure of connection without having to compress their hard-to-articulate needs into the prison of words.” (my emphasis)
This was ultimately my tragic fall in this attempt at being monogamous.
What? So, you just wanted to have sex all the time and not talk? Big whoop Caitlin, that’s like, every guys dream.
I KNOW, RIGHT?
So, of course, I become fond of one of the ones that likes to talk. That thrived off ‘talk intimacy’.
I wanted to have sex with him so I could feel close to him and express my intimacy and vulnerability and all that junk, but he lacked interest in sex because I wasn’t ‘opening up’ to him like he needed me to.
I still really don’t understand this at all. It seemed that ‘opening up’ meant taking all of the somewhat strange, bittersweet events that happened in my past, dusting them off, and calling them ‘issues’. So every time I wanted to be close to him, I learned that I needed to express some sort of weird anxiety about my past so that he would understand I felt close to him…
“The adherents of talk intimacy (often, though not always, women) have a hard time recognizing these other languages for closeness, hence they feel cheated when their partners are reluctant to confide in them […] the pressure is always on the non-talker to change, rather than on the talker to be more versatile.”
Perel, who is amazing, goes on to say how the lack of appreciation for other forms of intimacy really take away the importance and value of nonverbal communication: doing nice things for each other, attentive gestures (winks, smiles, a touch in a public setting), sharing projects, etc.
When I read this portion of her book I was sitting in a coffee shop, in a moment of intense relief and awe hit me all at once. I realized there was not a piece of me that was broken in regards to intimacy and vulnerability, but that I use a different language for it.
Which is, quite honestly, probably why I sucked at monogamy. If girls are the talkers, they will likely get together with their guy friends, and talk. And apparently talking isn’t cheating. If I express myself through my body, then I’m in a shit ton of trouble… So says society.
What a terrible feeling to hear someone say that they don’t feel close to you because you aren’t confiding in them, when you know that you feel incredibly close to them.
Of course, much of this has to do with the two people involving themselves with each other. If you have a choice in the matter, I highly recommend finding someone who uses the same intimacy language as you do… Or someone who at least understands how to translate your dialect/body language.