So, my boyfriend has informed me that we (read ‘he’) are not having enough sex.
This may well be a common complaint, particularly among men. But what is normal? How much sex ‘should’ we be having? Three times a week? Twice a day? It was revealed to me recently by someone who shall remain nameless that they could happily do it three times a day! Well, I know for a fact this would be more than their partner has time for. Hell, I think she struggles to find the time to brush her teeth the recommended twice a day, let alone see to other – or rather, another’s – pressing needs. So, let’s forget normal. Normal’s not for the likes of us anyway. Not when you’re going long-distance.
Hence my frustration – quickly escalating to annoyance, down a notch to bewilderment, back up again to indignation, simmering into irony and humour, and finally into this: writing about it. Because while Renaissance poetry is infinitely more interesting – it really IS, believe me! – than the ins and outs of my relationship, I am not quite ready to let this one go.
We are 5,000 miles apart, of course our sex life is enduring a bit of a low. An all-time low. But to be honest, I still have slightly bigger concerns: like making it through the day without crying (failed today), eating three square meals (oops, failed) and managing a good two hours’ solid concentration on the PhD I’m supposed to be doing (oh, almost…not quite).
But I have made an important decision, one which makes my feelings of annoyance no less stark: I have decided to take a break from trying to run a PhD and a LDR at the same time and take myself back to Hong Kong to spend a few much-needed months in the company of my other (his better) half and give living with each other a whirl. And I was really happy with this. We were both really happy with this – this morning… What changed over the course of five hours, between one phone call and another?
5,000 miles, that’s what. 5,000 miles and 8 hours.
They have a habit, you see, of insert themselves between us: a great big Hall of Mirrors through which we – he standing at one end, I at the other – conduct our relationship. Did I say conduct? I meant, analyse. For invariably these days the conversation turns back upon ourselves: a solipsistic, doubt-ridden, distorted no man’s land of words – often empty, usually hypothetical, hypocritical, theoretical and hurtful – in which we are lost, stabbing around for each other in the dark (innuendo unintended) and finding only vaguely remembered images of our own creation. Sometimes ideal, at others their worst enemy.
And so I sympathise when my boyfriend suggests I paint him in less than flattering colours in my blogs. I quite concede that the Jonny peopling these pages isn’t always the amazingly generous, warm-hearted, humourous, intelligent and, it has to be admitted, sexy man I fell for two years ago. But to be honest, nor am I happy that he sees me as a barren, cold and unloving girlfriend who rejects his best advances at every turn. There is certainly an aspect of that – of my life now, here – but if it was in anyway what I wanted I wouldn’t be leaving it behind for warmer climates, yoga and him.
I am not wishing to say that either of us is right and the other wrong, but just make a plea to him, to god, to us – to anyone going through the same or even vaguely similar experience – to step back from the mirror, remember the person you fell in love with and the person they might become; to not hold them down to the image that you would like them to be, but to embrace them – from near or afar – for the person they are; to see them as another, beautiful, complex, polymorphically perverse individual who, god willing, will always surprise and delight you, sometimes frustrate and annoy you, but who is for better or worse their own person, the person you fell in love with precisely because they are the near opposite, not the mere semblance, of you. “A nearer nearness in affection” won from an appreciation of all our disparateness and distance.
And if that hasn’t convinced you. Here’s one made earlier by another much more eloquent than I.
‘Marryson’ By Dennis ScottHe never learned her, quite. Year after year
That territory, without seasons, shiftedunder his eye. An hour he could be lostin the walled anger of her quarried hurton turning, see cool water laughing wherethe day before there were stones in her voice.He charted. She made wilderness again.Roads disappeared. The map was never true.Wind brought him rain sometimes, tasting of sea –and suddenly she would change the shape of shoresfaultlessly calm. All, all was each day new;the shadows of her love shortened or grewlike trees seen from an unexpected hill,new country at each jaunty helpless journey.So he accepted that geography, constantly strange.Wondered. Stayed home increasingly to findhis way among the landscapes of her mind.