Monday, October 4, 2010

Extra-marital Attractions

My last post was admittedly a bit on the hesitant side. And I think after Packer's train-wreck of a talk, we should discuss this more. We have to.

See, I grew up in a rather...loud household. Both my mom and my dad's house. My mom's favorite thing to do was to see an attractive woman and say "I'd do her" only to make my stepdad uncomfortable. After some time, my stepdad decided he'd fight back and say the same about some dude. It didn't work.

It takes a lot to make my mom uncomfortable.

Unless you're me.

Anyway.

My mom was pretty vocal about what man she found sexy, attractive, whatever. My stepmom liked to tell stories about men who flirted with her, especially if he was young. "So and so asked me out!"

Also, when I was a teen, my mom hung a picture of a half naked Jerry Rogers (49ers, football--or was it...oh, whatever. A half-nekkid 49er) in her bedroom she shared with my stepdad.

It all made me very uncomfortable.

So when I joined the church and heard about how we shouldn't flirt with other people or even, really, acknowledge members of the opposite sex when we're taken, I loved it. Eric's mom told me once that one of the things she loved about her husband was that he never spoke about another attractive woman, celebrity or otherwise. Eric said he liked this too, and I believed it was only appropriate--and respectful. Nothing like making your husband/wife feel as if they are the best looking person in the world to you and they don't see anyone else.

It's sweet, romantic, all that. I get it.

Eric has never said anything about another woman. Well. Nothing direct. I know he's noticed. He mentioned something about another girl's legs, whatever. I used to be really sensitive about this and extremely careful to never mention to anyone that I found another man attractive, let alone another chick. It wasn't until about two years ago when I met someone who tried to convince me it's totally okay to find someone else attractive, especially a celebrity or just some dude walking down the street that I'll likely never see again. She became angry when I refused to, and eventually I gave in. But I still didn't quite like it. After all, Eric never does this, does he? (I don't know. Like I said, he's very subtle if he does). It was weird.

Because, obvs, this means you'd totally and for reals jump into bed with them if you could. Screw commitments.

And that's the problem, isn't it? The teachings about the evils of teh sex doesn't end at marriage. You're still not supposed to do much more than acknowledge another person. You're never to accept a ride from them, even if you're stranded and need help. Who knows, your private parts may get a mind of their own and collide! There's no such thing as self-discipline.

It's a definite self-fulfilling prophecy, I think.

And what are you supposed to do if you find members of both sexes attractive? Hide in a hole?

You get the idea.

And I know there's a line. I still don't believe reciprocated or initiated flirtation is necessarily okay, but I do get that sometimes a person likes and even needs to know they're still found attractive by other people. Especially after they've had kids and/or have been married for quite some time. When "going out" means dinner at a restaurant, not dancing. Not anything really...well. Young, I guess.

Hi, I feel old. And I'm not.

So it was with some hesitancy that I posted yesterday.

I don't want to be like my mother or other women whose sig other is super-respectful but she's all over other men.

But here's the thing: I do find other people attractive. I'm sure he does, too, even though I'm just gaining the courage to ask him who. But, y'know, we watch True Blood together. Have you seen the people on that show? As far as fantasizing goes, I still don't know. I have, but not when I am with him. Doing that doesn't seem right.

So I wrote that post. It was kind of a big step in a few ways, but I trust all the people (especially IRL) who I know read this blog. (Nobody, of which, I've ever crushed on. But I love you very, very much.)

I dunno. Thoughts?

10 comments:

  1. I understand exactly where you are coming from, Lisa, but my experience has been somewhat different. After leaving the church, I was suddenly free to flirt and kiss and think about men (and women, if I wanted). I didn't go insane with it, but I did manage to find a gorgeous, funny, awesome man to share my bed with and I definitely started talking about who I thought was attractive. It was fun to talk about with girlfriends, it was fun to know that my mother would be horrified if she could hear me, and it was fun to revel in the beauty of men and women.

    My mate, it should be noted, NEVER says that he thinks (whoever) is attractive. Not women, definitely not men. It is just not his modus operandi. However, he thinks it's funny when I do, probably because he knew me when I was all buttoned-up and repressed. Something else I suppose I should mention is that I do not comment on the attractiveness of people around me. In fact I rarely notice "real life" hotties; if I'm talking about a woman's legs, it's almost always going to be a famous person.

    From where I am, I don't think there's anything wrong with your posting or the way you feel. I think it is good to find others attractive and healthy to fantasize. Like you, I don't fantasize about anyone else when I'm with my partner; I prefer to remain in the moment with him, since he is my ultimate fantasy. But in alone-times and when I'm bored at work and when I'm having a beer with my friends, why not enjoy the glorious looks of the True Blood cast?

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  2. It's definitely something I've struggled with (whether or not it's okay to admit you're attracted to someone). But I also read something here: http://lfab-uvm.blogspot.com/2007/03/questioning-objectification.html

    and it made me think: why should I be upset that my husband's natural instincts work right? Why should I be upset that my own instincts work right? They're just instincts, and as long as I know that and my husband knows that, and we know arousal is not love, and we know we love each other and want to spend our lives with ONLY each other - what's the harm in admitting that you find someone else attractive?

    I think it's far more harmful to believe that when you're with "the one" that you stop seeing other people in that way. If you believe that, even if it's obviously false, then when you find yourself attracted to another person, it will probably lead you to question whether or not the person you're with is really "the one." Much bigger problem than acknowledging, "that person is cute, but that's just my hormones talking."

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  3. I realized after I'd been married for three years that I'm actually more attracted to women, and came out to J about it. He took it seriously and didn't make any jokes about threesomes. He said that he supported me and wanted to know if I thought I needed a relationship with a woman or if I could still be happy with him. I feel nothing lacking in our relationship, but I'm honest with him when I'm curious about women. And since I've come out he's been more comfortable commenting on beautiful men. He says he doesn't think he's bisexual, though it would be fine if he were - he's just human and notices beauty. That's normal - even healthy.

    I do regularly have crushes on people I actually know. It's probably a boundaries issue. I just get infatuated and rock-star the hell out of people I admire. But it's never a serious thing. I can say honestly that I never fantasize about other people, even when I'm alone. I don't think it's a bad thing if you do, I've just never been inclined. Nobody flips my switches like my partner; the most elaborate fantasy couldn't match the memory of our being together, if that makes sense.

    I usually tell J if I find someone attractive and the funny thing is that he usually agrees. A friend of ours is in this great local band and after we saw him play for the first time, J turned to me and said, "Damn, Jeff is sexy!" I had just been checking him out myself because, damn, the way he moves when he strums that banjo is HOT! We always comment on it to each other whenever we see the band.

    I think this honesty keeps us both honest in other ways. We've created a bubble of safety in our relationship for other attractions. If you keep it a secret and feel ashamed, it blows up into something much bigger. Honestly, it helps a lot that I'm pretty much queer and he can find men attractive. If he notices a beautiful women, I probably have, too, if that makes sense, and that defuses the fear in it.

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  4. Carla: I agree.

    Chandelle: Woman, we need to get together for sure.

    I rock-star the hell out of "real life" friends I admire and love to death, too. There's a few in particular. You know their faults but choose to ignore them--which isn't bad, but it's bad when you idealize them. I can't seem to remember previous life lessons where I've learned that the higher a podium I put a person upon, the harder they fall.

    Actually, that was really good to remember just now.

    I haven't told Eric about it yet. I don't know why I'm so terrified (well, I do, but I don't think it's necessarily rational). I do regret quite a few things, but I know I'm with an amazing man who has been nothing but perfect for me. Nothing but supportive, sacrificing, and really, by virtue of being him, someone who encourages me to grow and be better.

    This transition period between LDS and apostate has been pretty easy for us--we're on much the same page--but there are issues to deal with, I think.

    We've always been honest with each other. Always. And I'm pretty sure this wouldn't surprise him anyway. I tend to wear my emotions/thoughts on my sleeve, and nobody reads me better than him.

    I'm coming off a lot of guilt and repression and, really, a church/christianity-induced distrust for the non-heterosexual community (I say that because it's more of a spectrum, I think, that one or the other)--especially considering a particular time in my past where i was horrendously insensitive to a long-time friend of mine who came out to me. He's since forgiven me, though it took me until the fall of '08 to get my head out of my ass. I have to thank the church for that--as well as immaturity and a bit of arrogant self-aggrandizing. But it was enabled by people who should know better. That I know.

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  5. My personal experience based on my professional observations: People who suppress natural feelings that they perceive as wrong or evil or dirty have unhealthy attitudes about sex and dysfunctional human relationships in general. You'd be amazed at how many Pillars of the Utah Mormon community are sentenced every year to prison for child sex abuse, often involving their own kids and grandkids. And so many more cases are never reported.

    We are sexual beings (among other things). People who pretend we aren't tend to be weird and, frankly, inappropriate. They are the people who make me uncomfortable.

    The simple biological reality is we are each sexually attracted to certain characteristics -- physical and otherwise. The way someone moves, another person's captivating smile, Mike's perfectly shaped and absolutely beautiful feet and legs and ....

    Cow elk get off on big antlers and that hot bugling sound. We humans get all dreamy about lips and butts and eyes and cute laughs. That is natural and it is healthy. It is only something to be ashamed of if you're Boyd KKK Packer and projecting his personal shame for his own natural urges toward someone who is living the life he can only dream about.

    Some people are just beautiful and incredibly sexy. Men and women. Gay and straight and everything in between. That doesn't mean we want to do them all. That's a different kind of relationship that encompasses that kind of attraction.

    Healthy relationships are built on mutual respect and honesty. Mike doesn't overtly ogle women but I know he notices. Of course he does. I would only be worried about him if he didn't notice or if he pretended otherwise. He knows I find other men attractive. I also often comment to him if I find something about a woman particularly attractive -- beautiful eyes or hair or whatever. He often agrees with me. Neither of us is threatened by the FACT (omg! did I say that out loud???) that there are a lot of beautiful and sexy people in this world and we certainly don't pretend not to see them.

    I personally believe there is more harm in suppressing and denying healthy attractions than to simply acknowledge and accept them for what they are.

    Thanks for an awesome and thought-provoking post. I missed them when I was without internet access for a few days. Oh, and tangent, did I mention, I hate General Conference? And also, is BKKKP completely insane? He may single-handedly derail Romney's presidential bid.

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  6. Carla: I've been wanting to say more about yr comment but haven't known what yet.

    It's a hard thing after so many years to know where the appropriate middle ground is. On the one hand, it's totally normal to find others attractive. It shouldn't threaten that person's partner. If it does, there are underlying issues.

    On the other hand, I still believe sticking a poster of a half-naked guy up on your bedroom wall AS A MARRIED WOMAN isn't exactly awesome.

    That said, knowing my mom, she might've just been trying to get under my stepdad's skin. Again.

    There's talking about it and then there's shoving it in yr partner's face.

    CD: No longer than some of mine! Very welcomed, actually. Thank you for that. I totally agree with you in that people who are repressed tend to have problems with sexuality in general--of their own and/or of others.

    I just figure the best thing we can do with Packer's vitriol is to talk about it, especially if we are or have been attracted to someone of the same sex. Because I can attest that it's not a choice and there's nothing about it that feels sinful or wrong or that it's a "struggle" until other people say so. And I still remember growing up all the people who told me directly or indirectly that it was wrong, so I didn't do anything about it.

    Like Harvey Milk said (paraphrase): the more people that come out, the less others will be able to slap stereotypes on us all and the less the myths will be perpetuated and make sense.

    And, if it isn't completely clear yet, Boyd Packer is a fucking idiot.

    Prepare for repetition, because it will be coming.

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  7. A good friend of mine who was once a Mormon came out to me many years ago. I told him I loved him but we all have weaknesses we need to overcome. I mean, I like men too, but I don't have to have sex with them all, right?! I was a fucking idiot. He went through his own depression and self-loathing but was finally able to find peace and then joy when he learned he wasn't broken or dirty. He learned to embrace himself for who he is. It tears me up that I wasn't really there for him during that time.

    Somehow, he not only forgave me but he still loves me. When my faith fell apart and my world crumbled, he was the one person I could talk to. He likely saved my life. He's the best example of Christ-like love I know. Ain't it ironic?

    If Packer insists on staying in that repressed closet of his he needs to shut the fuck up. Glad you're going to keep talking about it.

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  8. Ahhhhh Alcide! Okay, stopped drooling.

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  9. annah: he is a fine piece of man, isn't he? ;)

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