Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Surprise Sex

As human beings, we are prone to the confines of familiarity. Routine. Schedule. Institution. It helps us make sense of the world we live in, and while some of us go through life living in the moment and thriving on spontaneity, the rest of us take comfort in solid structure. Knowing exactly what to do and what to expect when a well-thought out plan is made, stuck to and properly executed is the closest thing to perfection we're ever going to achieve. With such specific goals to attain in something as short as a lifetime, there really isn't much time for the unexpected curve ball, especially when ones goal in life is to be as normal and consistent as possible...

When you enter a marriage for the first time, all you can think about is love and being set for life. At last; a life of stability and comfort. No more dates, no more "getting-to-know-you" and no more awkward first times. You've found your penguin. Yes, when you're a newly wed, the last thing on your mind is the possibility of divorce but just like shit, sometimes it just happens. After spending a lifetime getting to know the ins and outs of another individual, accepting their flaws and their faults and loving them exactly the way they are...SURPRISE! Irreconcilable differences. The marriage along with all the other creature comforts in a relationship suddenly crumbles and you find yourself right back at square one. No wonder they call it bitter.

As if the process of separating from your supposed happy-ever-after wasn't painful enough, we soon find ourselves being pressured into getting back into the saddle. We begin to worry about things such as dating and dating admin, getting to know someone from scratch, trusting someone enough to allow them into your naked space. Suddenly dying alone in a bachelor flat full of stray cats and microwave dinners for one doesn't seem so bad. There really are far worse things in life.

While post-divorce and rebound flings are always exciting, bright and new, it also means having to adjust one's routine in order to accommodate their newly single lifestyle. It means making the time to put yourself out there in a reality where the majority of decent men are already taken or on the prowl for veal...not aged, mature sirloin. The competition is stiffer than a frat boy's penis, and while online dating may assist in terms of convenience, it still means having to put in the hard yards to make yourself appealing. This entails going to gym, eating right and doing whatever it takes to look less like the emotional train wreck your previous relationship left you in.

Most people require a fair amount of time to get over their ex but when you're in your mid-thirties, divorced and horny as hell, that "half-the-amount-of-time-you-were-together-before-you-can-start-dating" bullshit simply doesn't fly. "I need to get laid before this thing between my legs falls off!" There's nothing like a little nookie with a perfect stranger to get one out of their routine and comfort zone no matter how daunting it may be at first. Just ask Laura, my 33 year-old divorced friend who has been flirting up a storm for the past year with any hot blooded, semi-decent guy she could get her hands on.

"Maybe it's the fact that Jon and I hadn't been intimate for a long time before our marriage ended or maybe it's the fact that I'm constantly on heat, but most of the post-divorce sex I've had really wasn't as difficult or awkward as it's made out to be. Of course crying and running out of a room the minute another guy lays his hands on you is something to be expected, and hopefully never repeated, but once you get over the insecurities that your previous relationship left you with, and the reality of being with someone else other than your husband sinks in, the sex can be very stimulating."

Was post-divorce sex like being re-virginized? Touched for the very first time by someone who wasn't your spouse? Was Laura suddenly born again? And what about the psychological implications of having unfamiliar sex? Should we see it as validation and a way of feeling good about ourselves, or is it the necessary release required to bring closure to the previous relationship?

"Retraining oneself at being single again wasn't easy. For starters, I found myself shaving my legs more frequently, but apart from the physical and mental efforts, I found myself enjoying the freedom of not giving a fuck. All that meticulous planning around having this perfect relationship or this perfect life no longer seemed relevant. The pressure lifts and finally, you find yourself enjoying life again. The first couple of dates were weird as fuck, especially the ones where you run out of things to say before the first round arrives. What's worse is when you slip into conversation about the demise of your marriage making you look like a sad, angry, erratic nightmare. Funnily enough, these were usually the dates that ended in surprise sex. Forget rejection. Vulnerability is the ultimate aphrodisiac!"

Whether you're looking for that next meaningful relationship to fill the void or a ride into rebound valley, first dates post long-term relationship are never really smooth sailing. The manner in which we begin again varies from one person to the next, and while some people may live in hope of reconciliation, others are simply doing what comes naturally in this specific circumstance...moving on. If change is as good as a holiday, why not enjoy the vacation while it lasts?

When it comes to post-marital sex, how do we liberate ourselves without feeling guilty?   

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Too Little Too Late

If you're addicted to series the way I am, and you probably are, you'll soon discover that there’s nothing worse than that fateful day when your favorite TV sitcom, soapie or drama has been given the boot. Will & Grace, Happy Endings, Beverley Hills 90210 (the first one). After giving us season upon season of non-stop entertainment and escapism, a network can suddenly turn around and pull the plug, leaving us stunned, depressed and ready to rant about it across their social media page. It’s devastating, cruel and sometimes completely unwarranted especially when you consider all the unoriginal dribble that gets renewed and picked up for five, six and sometimes seven seasons, and while Glee may have taken a nose-dive after the original cast members graduated at the end of Season 3, it has since redeemed itself by delivering some of the funniest, wittiest, bitchiest and heartfelt one-liner's in the history of television.

I am not ashamed to say it...I am and always have been a total Gleek, and the return of the sixth and final season has really struck a chord in my heart. Everything from Becky Jackson's insidious insults to the cheerleaders and football jocks, from the carefully selected repertoire of pop-culture classics to the return of Sue Sylvester and her multi-colored tracksuits. The magic of High School Musical's darker sister on steroids was making a major comeback as it entered its Swan song days. Why on earth could they not have gotten this right a season ago when the ratings were low and the show was struggling to keep its head above the water? What took the creators so long to recapture those glorious and precious moments that made this TV show such a hit in the first place? Were they tired or had the show gone as far as it could?

As I cackled and hosed myself laughing at one of the more recent episodes, I found myself thinking about relationships and their uncanny relation to TV shows. Just like any good TV plot line, a relationship starts with a romantic interest. Throw in a bit of laughter, compatibility, sex, a host of supporting roles and just when you least expect it, a flash mob with perfectly timed choreography. Nothing is as good as the first few seasons, but what happens when the show begins to lose its sizzle? What happens when the twists and story-lines no longer seem to gel, and the show seems inconsistent? Is it time for some fresh and innovative material or is it time to put the show to bed? 

After five seasons of unadulterated drama and nail-biting cliffhangers, I decided to cancel my existing contract with Aiden. The network was not happy, but at the end of the day, I had to do what was right for me and essentially him.

The production that had become our relationship was no longer viable in its current format. Of course the network tried all it could to salvage the show...focus groups, new surroundings, the reintroduction of Doctor Moriarty. They were willing to do whatever it took to improve the ratings, but somehow, it simply wasn't enough. It was clear that our relationship had taken a slow and steady decline for the worse, despite all the efforts made to revitalize the brand, leaving us with one of two choices: we could either cancel abruptly or end the relationship on a high note...

"What happens after the initial shock, pain and anger subsides is something beautiful and unexpected. You start listening to one another. Communicating. The break up sex is incredible. You find humour again and gradually begin to enjoy each others company, despite the harsh circumstance that brought you here in the first place. True, there's a greater possibility of things ending on bad terms, but when you have characters with as much history as Aiden and I, ending the relationship with as much integrity, dignity and respect seemed like the right thing to do."

The last few episodes of a series can be particularly emotional, especially when certain things that are said and done happen to bring up old feelings that you thought had long since gone. The physical attraction and the emotional connection reignited over that final candle lit dinner scene, one hot night of passionate it all just another gimmick to please the crowd or is this actually for real? Could there still be a chance of saving the show or is it all simply too little too late?

When the future status of a relationship is pending, and the uncertainty of not knowing what happens next looms over you like the plague, the best thing to do is try to be kind to one another. We all handle break ups differently, some with a vengeance and others with a strong sense of amicability. At the end of the day, it's not about giving your audience what they want, it's about doing what's best for you. Who knows...perhaps a spin off series of the original might find itself crossing over from time to time but until that decision is made, the power to control the end is entirely up to you. 

When it comes to the cancellation of our favorite relationship, I couldn’t help but wonder, why is the final season always the best?  

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Down with Love (A V-Day Special)

Love is a many splendoured thing, love, lifts us up where we belong. All you need is love…Sigh! Just like the ever-hopeless romantic love-fool, it all starts with a little song in our hearts and a sudden spring in our step. That elevated sense of euphoria that beats any schedule 7 high that comes whenever we lock eyes with that special someone who takes our breath away. It literally knocks you off your feet and suddenly, you're flying high and the world seems like such a perfect place. Yes, the power of love has a way of transcending its magic into our souls, spreading like cancer, and just like any terminal illness, the only cure for it is to go with the motions and wait it out.

Every year on the fourteenth day of the second month, we are reminded of this crazy little thing called love as we embark on one of the most commercially viable celebrations known to man; Valentines Day. The official Hallmark day for love glorified by anyone lucky enough to have finally found someone, a day to celebrate their love through simple romantic gestures such as a rose, a box of chocolates or a romantic candlelit dinner. What feels like a torturous, wicked game for singletons everywhere is actually just an extension of the eternal flame that burns between a man and a woman. True love sees past the pink smoke and careless whispers, making every day V-Day through simple acts of kindness and appreciation for that special one in a million. It's supposed to bring out the best in you...

But if love means never having to say you're sorry, what about couples who constantly find themselves apologising for bringing each other down? What happens when emotions become more than words and words of love turn into weapons of pain, anger and resentment? When you've been with someone long enough, it's perfectly normal to have the occasional spat between lovers. It's to be expected; but what happens when the one that you want suddenly becomes the target of your own misery? Is that the way love goes or is it time to end that supposed endless love?

"Down with Love" seems to be the mantra of 2015 with not one, not two, but three long-term relationships coming to a sudden end. As I found myself checking into the heartbreak hotel along with Bryan and Laura, I couldn't help but wonder...what could have possibly happened to bring about such a total eclipse of the heart? 

"When I first met Peter I wasn't just bleeding love. I was haemorrhaging! I was crazy in love. I welcomed it with open arms and just knew that he was the one I was going to spend the rest of my life with." Laura, 31 had met Peter in high school and had been partners in crime ever since. After nearly ten years of marriage, she decided to ask for a divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. After hopelessly being devoted to one man for all her life, she had noticed that they were no longer compatible and stopped wanting the same things for their marriage.

"We got to a point where we both felt so much guilt about the things we said and did to each other. That's a heavy burden to carry, let alone acknowledge. Knowing that you're the reason for constantly bringing the worst out of someone and making them question whether or not they'd ever live up to your exceedingly high expectations is a pretty kak one. It's torture. Maybe we stayed too long out of comfort or maybe we just need a break from one another to figure our own shit out. I know deep in my heart that we belong together but at this point in our lives, we're just playing on broken strings."

And then there was Bryan. To know him was to love him. Six years into his engagement, he and his fiancee decided to call the whole thing off. " I suppose that's just the way love goes. One day you're falling and loving them truly, madly, deeply and the next thing you know, you're on a battlefield, trying not to kill each other. I always thought that love would keep us together, but sometimes it's not enough to heal the damages we cause unto each other. But the heart is resilient. I believe that it will go on..."

Some people want to fill the world with silly love songs while others simply need a break from it all to figure out whether those unchained melodies are really for them. Whatever vision of love you think you might have, sometimes it just isn’t enough to justify a marriage or romantic relationship that finds itself in critical condition. What might have been the greatest love of all the one day could suddenly turn into a highway to hell, bringing about the absolute worst in us. Is love just a losing game or does it just hurt sometimes instead? Surely, if things are truly meant to be, isn’t letting of someone you love worth the risk of getting them back in the end?
When it comes to the tragic demise of a bad romance, I couldn't help but wonder...what’s love got to do with it?

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Cheat Day

At some point in every girl's life, we're bound to come across one of nature's most difficult challenges; the dreaded D-word a.k.a...the Diet. Whether your goal is simply to lose those unforeseen festive pounds or whether it's part of a whole new healthier lifestyle regimen, dieting is about as necessary as waxing your fanny. And it certainly doesn't get any easier the older you get, what with all those delicious delicacies so readily available at the swipe of a loyalty card. Chuckles, Krispy Kremes, a super-size McFeast Delxue meal at 2am after a heavy cocktail binge. It takes a lot of willpower to muster up the strength, discipline and motivation to avoid those sinfully delicious, chocolate-covered carbs and sugars.

While some of us go to extreme lengths such as cleansing our systems full of lemon-cayenne-pepper concoctions or starving ourselves to the point of keeling over, most of us choose the saner and safer option of daily exercise and a well-balanced nutritious meal plan.

Salads, veggies, protein and water. Repeat six days a week with an intensive cardio and functional training routine. These are the things that a good diet doth make, and while the proof is certainly not in the pudding that we begrudgingly deprive ourselves of, at least we have one day in that hellish week to look forward to. My friends, I am talking about the cheat day - that wonderfully glorious day of the week in which meal replacements and dietary supplements are replaced with pretty much whatever the hell we want. Pasta, pizza, speckled eggs. That well-deserved splurge and purge after weeks of sticking to lean cuisine, power smoothies and beastly Banting rituals. It's literally the one day of the week that we can have our cake, and eat it.

Never has a concept such as "Cheat Day" tasted so sweet, and even though we should do our best to keep things in moderation, sometimes our cravings are so intense that we tend to go overboard. One day can turn into two and before you know it, your entire meal plan expands as quickly as your waistline. All that hard work and commitment for nothing. While some of us manage to go through our routine without even thinking about it, others tend to over-indulge which can often lead into dietary consequences.

The whole concept of dieting got me thinking about couples and the discipline it requires to maintain a healthy relationship. While a cheat day once a week is absolutely necessary for our sanity when it comes to food, how acceptable is it in a relationship? What happens when we get bored and sick to death of the same mundane dietary routines? Do we give into our cravings or do we remind ourselves about the health benefits that come with sticking to a stable relationship? While most of us are disciplined enough to soldier through, there are others who simply can't resist the sweet temptation of infidelity...

Samantha was down from London and as always, she was looking her best. Maybe she was born with it or maybe it was her diet. No-one thought in a million years that she could do it considering her notoriously ferocious appetite for men once-upon-a-time, but Sam had achieved the impossible feat of maintaining a healthy-ish eight-year relationship with a man who was as bland as tofu. For eight long years, she lived off a staple diet of commitment, communication and compromise without a single craving for the sweet taste of man...or did she?

A bottle of Pinot Grigio and several dick pics later, Sam began to spill the beans of her several indiscretions over the past three years. Without anyone knowing what she was up to, she had maintained a secret diet of man-meat that included a Viking, an Italian, a German, the gingerbread man, the married guy with a kid and of course, her personal favourite, Mr. dark chocolate. "It's a slippery slope, one that I would never recommend to anyone as loyal as you. It finds a way of eating at you but at the same time, it's a helluva of thrill and highly addictive."

She began to tell me about the first time she had had an affair with the married man. Two strangers sitting at a bar casually conversing over the very best bottle of MCC, neither one of their spouses in sight. Both bored with their draining daily routines and lack of spice in their respective relationships. Chemistry happened. There was an instant connection and attraction between the two of them and it wasn't long before Sam was blowing him in the bathroom stall of this very local, very upmarket Pub in London Town.

"I know what you're thinking. Why don't I just leave Paul and put him out of his misery? Well, because I love him and he gets all of me but when it comes to our sex life, he just doesn't know how to turn me on anymore. He's so vanilla. Everything is so safe, so missionary. Did you know I have 65 tiles on my roof. 65?! I tried explaining my desires to him and told him that I needed him to be more adventurous, more experimental but he just didn't feel comfortable. One day I just said "to hell with it" and started going through men like a thousand flavours. Now my diet is full of variety which of course includes a shit load of really effective sexercise routines."

Is that why people cheat? Because they're bored, or is there something so horribly lacking in their sexual chemistry that no matter how many times you communicate, never seems to fulfill one's sexual hunger? Is a little slip up every now and then necessary to keep us going despite the possible pain and fall out or is it something completely unsavoury? Was Sam just a greedy little skank incapable of staying faithful to her relationship diet or was she simply trying to give her body something that it so desperately craved?

When moral fibre begins to lack in any relationship, how do we get back on track? Do we continue the vicious cycle of cheating knowing that it would break the fast of a healthy and well-balanced relationship, or do we continue indulging until the excess guilt starts weighing us down? Should we exorcise these impure thoughts before they become physical actions or do we keep feeding the beast until it the evidence eventually shows?

When it comes to committing the ultimate crime of relationship carbocide, at what point should we stop pigging out?