Dear Dr. Ren,
I enjoyed a satisfying relationship for a number of years before it came to a sudden end several years ago. I had the necessary time to catch my breath and soothe my bruised heart and am now ready to start dating again. I am definitely miss touching and sex.
When I consider my options and talk to my friends, it looks like Craigslist is a good choice for no-strings-attached sex, which is all I’m ready for at this point. After such a good relationship, I know it will take a bit of dating to find another that fits so well. I’m not in a hurry. I just want the great sex part now. That’s possible, isn’t it?
Craigslist seems to offer a lot of bi-curious seekers and I’m wondering if this would be a good option. I figure it might be safer for me because they’d be looking only for the sexual experience and would be trying really hard to impress, to be blunt.
Have I happened upon a great plan or am I…
Dear Fooling Yourself,
You present a logical argument but, alas, you’ll likely not get what you ordered.
Though you presume that someone in a new sexual situation would pay special attention to the subtleties and innuendos of the action, this would probably not be the case for several reasons.
To begin with, anxiety runs high in any first-time encounter, making us more self-conscious and less relaxed. What you are seeking in great sex is the opposite of these characteristics: generosity and focus.
Secondly, bi-curious people are by definition folks who have until this point enjoyed only heterosexual sex. The differences between straight and gay sex far outweigh the disparities in plumbing.
Way back in the 1970s Masters and Johnson were fascinated with studying sex. Using all manner of scientific instrumentation, they documented that, regardless of physical equipment, arousal and orgasm are pretty much the same. However, efficiency is not what you are looking for, and it is not all M&J found when they observed gay couples having sex.
Masters and Johnson did not uncover homosexuals’ secret sex techniques. They found that, unlike their straight counterparts, these couples took their time and “tended to move slowly… and to linger at each stage… making each step… something to be appreciated…”
They also found, particularly with the lesbians, that they became as aroused by what they were doing to their partners as was the partner herself.
In other words, “not only were committed lesbians more effective in satisfying their partners, they usually involved themselves without restraint.”
Contrast this with the straight man who “became so involved in his own sexual tensions that he seemed relatively unaware of the degree of his partner’s sexual involvement. This sense of goal orientation… was exhibited almost as frequently by the heterosexual women as by their male partners.”
Masters called this enhanced appreciation of sexual reciprocity “gender empathy” and it works only if you are gay. Seeking out the bi-curious hoping for a boost in sexual attentiveness will probably be an exercise in futility.
And there’s yet another factor to consider before you engage in sex again. You enjoyed a long-term, meaningful and significant relationship for a number of years. You remember how wondrous the sex was. Sex with a stranger won’t match it, regardless of how technically perfect it may be. Keep your expectations realistic and be prepared for complications and emotional surprises.
Remember too that you will be interacting not simply with someone’s body but with a real live person who will also have expectations and anxieties. S/he (you don’t mention your gender) may or may not be seeking “simply” a sexual encounter.
It is difficult to have a fulfilling, intimate human connection from the skin out. Even as you are concentrating on fulfilling your needs, remember to consider those of your date. No one wants to feel like a science project.
While you figure out who you want to date, you would be wise to prepare yourself physically. You say you miss touch— a genderless, human need. May I suggest a few massages or reflexology sessions simply for the luxury of the touching?
Sometimes getting your hair shampooed can be divinely sensual and relaxing. Let your friends know you are coming out of your divorce depression and appreciating hugs again. Bring touch into your life whenever you can and fill your touch reservoir to prevent you from entering the dating scene completely needy.
You are emerging from a cocoon of grief and, like a newly hatched butterfly, you will be vulnerable. I applaud your plan to avoid falling immediately into another relationship, yet caution you to anticipate some difficult reactions as you attempt to separate emotion from physicality— a tough job when lying naked with someone, experiencing great pleasure, and being bathed in bonding endorphins.
All that said, your bi-curious plan could work provided you account for the foibles of human emotion and approach it with realistic expectations.
Everyone starts somewhere and “bi-curious” is frequently “pre-gay.” You may stumble upon a diamond in the rough. You just never know.