Letting Go

I am the first to admit, I have a hard time letting go. To be clear, I don’t mean I have a hard time ending something that isn’t working; I have no problem analyzing a situation and deciding it isn’t going to work, and I don’t have an issue communicating that. What I’m talking about is emotionally letting go once something is over. Whether it’s a romantic partner that didn’t work out or a friendship that became distant, I have a lot of difficulty allowing people to move out of my life on an emotional level. I continue to worry about them, wonder what they are up to, think of things I would like to say to them, and generally just keep them in my mind longer than I feel is healthy. And when I’m the one to make that decision, to make the call that something is over, it’s even harder, because then there is the guilt that comes from hurting them along with the rest. Losing someone, even if its someone I haven’t really known that long, is an almost physical pain for me. I feel the space they used to fill like an empty seat beside me for some time afterwards.

My last long term romantic relationship could have ended long before it did. We were both holding on for the wrong reasons, and things went on longer than they should have. As a result the ending hurt more than it needed to, and I held onto the pain from that for a very long time. I couldn’t let go of thinking about how he was doing, what could have been, and all the little things that had happened that had hurt me. It was my way of continuing to hold onto the relationship. If I was still being hurt by it, and still thinking about him all the time, then it wasn’t really over. At least not in my mind. 

I don’t only have this problem with romantic relationships. I’ve had friendships I have lost that have been just as important to me. I love my friends as much as I love my partners. They are the family that I choose. When friendships end it is harder on me in a lot of ways, because I can never understand why they need to end. Friendships don’t have the expectations on them that romantic relationships can have; friendships don’t need to meet perceived goals or timelines, they don’t require you to merge lives or to commit fully to each other in order to continue. Most of the pressures that end romantic relationships aren’t there in a friendship, and yet somehow they end anyway, either abruptly or by fading away. It is a type of rejection that I have a lot of trouble letting go of, because I have a hard time seeing as anything but a personal one. I continuously wonder what I did to push them away, or what I was lacking in keeping them interested. 

So how do I deal with it? I’ve learned over the years that it is important to mourn the end of a relationship without obsessing over it, whatever type of relationship it was. Let the feelings of sadness, loss, and even guilt run their course; don’t tell yourself you shouldn’t feel that way. You are allowed to feel the way you do, wonder what they are doing, and replay any moments that you want to. Accept the feelings, acknowledge them, really feel them, and then let them go. Take as much time as you need. The important thing is that you don’t act on them, and that you don’t let them consume you. Don’t become angry or bitter, don’t obsessively stalk anyone in person or online, don’t blame yourself for everything that goes wrong in their lives, and don’t wallow in your memories. Don’t try to keep someone in your life that isn’t there anymore. Take the time to clean out that empty seat, so that someone else can sit there. 

Sex

“Let’s talk about sex, baby” – Salt-N-Pepa

I’m just going to come out and say it; I love sex. I love the intimacy, the connection, and yes, the physical release of it. I love the way it feels when my partner and I look into each others eyes and see the passion we have for one another shining through. I love exploring each others bodies, finding all those special places that result in shivers or giggles, learning how to touch to tease and where to stroke for results. I love discovering all the different ways to move together to get the desired results, and I love trying new ideas to see if we can get different or more intense ones. I love the moments after sex, cuddling up together, talking or laughing about what happened, or discussing things we might try next time. I love sex, and everything that goes along with it. 

I know sex isn’t like this for everyone. Not all sexual experiences are positive ones, and a history of negative ones can make enjoying sex very challenging. Sometimes self esteem issues make being naked and exposed around another person a terrifying experience that might result in nothing but rejection and embarrassment. Some people have difficulty enjoying the physical aspects of sex, and find orgasming or even enjoying intimate touch without an orgasm challenging. And some people simply don’t have much of a drive, and find the idea of having to physically please a partner all the time an exhausting or trying experience.

So how important is sex to a relationship? Is romantic success linked to the number of orgasms you and your partner give one another? Should partnerships be ranked like sporting events, where the teams who score the most often are considered the winners?

It’s important to remember that in most cases sex isn’t actually about sex; it’s about the affection and emotional connection that comes out of trying to make one another feel good. Yes, there are some proven physiological benefits of having a healthy sex life, but those same benefits can be found in other places. Going to the gym or eating a quality chocolate bar for example. Physical connection is important, but that connection doesn’t have to come from sex. Hugging, cuddling, and sleeping together can bring the same level of intimacy, and have their own health benefits. 

Despite what you may read online there is no set number of times per day, week, or month that you should be having sex. Do you know why? Because sex isn’t meant to be about what you should do, and intimacy won’t come out of something that feels like an obligation. Sex should always be a choice, even in a relationship, and couples need to come up with their own rhythm, one that will meet their needs. Don’t get caught up in what’s ‘normal’, and don’t look for outside validation. 

If you or your partner are unhappy with your sexual relationship don’t look to the internet for answers; look to each other. Yes, it is ‘normal’ for desire to diminish over time, but don’t use that as an excuse not to look under the surface. Maybe there is an imbalance because one partner feels like they are always giving, and the other is always taking. Maybe someone isn’t being completely honest about their inner desires, insecurities, or fears, and that is affecting their ability to get intimate. Maybe there’s a physical issue, and you need to consider alternate forms of intercourse or intimate touch. Maybe you have forgotten to cherish your sexual energy, and need to spend some time focusing on your partner as an object of physical desire. Whatever the answer is, the only way to find it is by talking with each other.