Stephen Wright

(IDEAS NOTEBOOK.)  I'd better set this down now, for it's been lurking in my thoughts for some years already, only an infrequent bother it is true, but one that will not go away.  There is something that an acquaintance told me his girlfriend had started to do.  She was seventeen and they had become comfortable with each other.  They told each other everything (as the saying goes).  And right there lay the problem.  She had begun to tell him during sex whenever he was 'finishing' too early for her and leaving her still a little hungry.  And contrariwise also - she had started to make it clear when she was 'done now' and would he finish off soon as she was a bit bored now.

He was unsettled.  He had adored her up to this new find in her behaviour, and was trying to fit it in to his adoration.  We wondered whether she was a controlling type of person, in the bed at least, in a junior type of way.  Sex-time had become anxious-time and it occurred to him that she might have been here before, that he might be the latest in a line of upset lovers.  So he asked her.

I had expected her to be affronted and indignant when he challenged her way of doing sex, but (apparently) she wasn't either of those things.  She told him that he was only her third lover (so there had been no time yet for much history to her love-life) and that from the beginning she had told her man of what she was feeling, but in a completely neutral way.  I'm guessing here, but it is a fair guess that she wasn't ranking him in any way and nor was she intending to criticize.  She was merely telling him what she was feeling in the hope that this would make everything 'go better' for them both (not that it was unsatisfactory in any case; quite on the contrary; of course of course of course).

Then he asked the girl whether she would tell him if she'd thought of someone else during his sex with her.  She replied that of course she would.  She hadn't done so yet with him, but she had with her previous lover on occasion.  Of course she had.  Surely everyone did.  Sometimes she had imagined she was with her first boyfriend who still wanted her (she said); at other times she imagined she was being taken against her will by a schoolteacher she didn't like (laugh! for he knew the man too).  All of course (silly boy) to get there more climactically.  It was better for her, like that.  So why not?  And presumably, I imagine, why not he telling her when he's gazing at her body, lost in the sensation of her, but imagining he's with one of her friends who has teased him into cheating.

And this is where I still am now.  Years on.  Why not?  Of course I could (metaphorically) tell her 'why not', I could trot out the old platitude of how many things are better left unsaid.  But I've a feeling that doing so would tediously be yet another quick impulse that conveniently masks yet another human inadequacy.  For telling this sort of girl to wisely keep her counsel, means you can avoid the necessity of facing the limitations of all relationships.  By all means focus mainly on how much your partner broadens your life, but please don't completely blind yourself to the fact that you and your partner are (to some extent) limiting.  Being with you is limiting.  It's limiting by it's being with you (wonderful of course) and not with someone else who looks new, moves new, sounds new.  Not better, but different.  Yes of course you are special and you are individual and someone loves you - but you are not a change.  And your lover chooses (perhaps) NOT to move on, and thereby sacrifices a variety that can't even clearly be imagined.  And these little devices that the girl (in this case) sometimes uses to satisfy a hunger for variety - shouldn't we be aware of them, and more importantly be thus made aware of our own limitations and the constrictions we wish others to live under?

                                                                                                              Lu Cong - chicago

Acquaintance and girl did not stay together for very long, following their conversation, and yes I might have walked out on any blunt girlfriends I'd somehow ended up with (would have walked out, if I'm honest).  And yet isn't an illusioned sex-life a bit, well, babyish for adults?  Yes, yes, to continually harp on about the detail of what goes on in your bedroom, upon every occasion, yes that is merely destructive.  But to NEVER have your limitations put (not thrown) in your face, to always have a smile and a silence throwing their arms round your neck?  Just how illusioned do you want to be?  C'mon. 

For my part, I can't take any criticism (in any field) and I ignore any that is cast my way.  I have let a smile and a silence throw their arms round my neck all my life.  But the price I pay for that is to hold illusions which I know to be quite offensive to others.  Honesty in the bedroom is a troublesome area.