Sometimes I think about the lover I used to be.
Not the fumbling adolescent, in awe and terrified of being alone with a naked female human being, but the twenty-year-old young man who took on his sexual discovery and the hope of mastery with a commitment most of his peers were applying to their careers.
Sex became my focus, my compulsion, and my way of distracting myself from the inner pain I was to avoid for decades.>Gradually, I developed a successful formula for the game of seduction, starting with the selection of my next . . . what? Object of desire? Conquest? Target? Victim? All of the above?
Of course, at the time I didn’t think this way. “Make love, not war” was the slogan of the times. Free love and sex was the philosophy in the communities I participated in. Most of us didn’t look too deeply into our inner motivation. We had a belief system on our side! So we pursued our passion, fueled by raging hormones, with self-righteous zealousness.
WARNING – the next few paragraphs may make the lover I used to be—seem like an asshole…..< The lover I used to be learned and practiced an effective strategy, beginning with the amount and quality of attention to apply to whoever was next. Then I somehow maneuvered us to the right physical environment, touched and kissed the right places for the right amount of time, eventually asked the question “Is it ok to come inside of you?” after assuming that she was satisfied, and if the answer was “yes”, did.Sometimes someone was interesting enough to stay with for awhile, even for a few years. Not exclusively, of course, but I was always honest about that. How noble of me. Mostly, it was a night or weekend of fun, and then on to the next adventure. This was the lover I used to be.When I read what I just wrote, a mixture of thoughts and feelings arise. First, and fleeting, is the sense of loss for my youth, nostalgia for the good old days when things seemed simpler. I now know it is only a trick of the mind to think they were. The little boy who never wanted to grow up, and certainly doesn’t want to accept that I might actually be considered old at 68, still shows up in my psyche occasionally.
Next is some embarrassment at how what I wrote sounds, that I may have been so selfish and insensitive so much of the time. Was I really? I like to think every encounter I had was consensual. Yes, I was persistent and persuasive at times, but were there consequences I wasn’t aware of? Probably I’ll never know, although I’m still friends with someone I was lovers with 40 years ago. I could ask her how she experienced our time together.
Do I regret my past? No. I have many wonderful memories, however, distorted they may be from reality.
So what changed, and what now?
The inner pain I referred to earlier caught up to me around the age of 40. I began to feel the lack of quality intimate connection I was missing in spite of the quantity of sexual experiences. I also began to realize that I was seeking external validation to make up for my internal insecurity. Many of my friends had become extremely successful financially while I was floundering career-wise.
Studying Tantra began as a way to expand my sexual toolbox, but it was the introduction to the possibility of Sacred Connection that inspired me to begin to take a deeper look at my sexual history and my past behavior. Along with the developing awareness I mentioned in the last paragraph, I didn’t like what I saw.
Several years of internal exploration and (another) relationship crisis then led me to take the Hoffman Process, a week long transformational healing retreat. This experience took me even deeper into understanding what motivated my repeating cycles with women. It was a huge step toward completing and forgiving my past, and beginning to create a new future based on the ability to be emotionally vulnerable, opening to deep intimacy, not just fleeting fun.
And now here I am at age 68, a true veteran of the sexual revolution. Seven years ago, I began a relationship with Johanina, who I had met over twenty years earlier. Although we had not been lovers, we had been friendly acquaintances for more than two decades. Circumstances brought us together in a way that created a new foundation of friendship. Falling in love surprised us. Our sexual relationship developed slowly and has continued to grow deeper. We married in November 2014.
I’m having great sex with a 72-year-old grandmother!
And my definition of great sex is different. It’s not as frequent, starts slower, and ends sooner. I can’t always count on my penis to participate the way it used to, so intercourse isn’t assumed. We still love to be playful, but need to be careful of body parts that aren’t as flexible or can’t stay in the same position for too long. The dance of our mature sexual expression has become a practice of improvisation.
Sometimes my mind starts to compare the present to the past, which is never a good thing. We stop to reconnect through our eyes, breath, and touch. It is an ongoing practice for us to remember to appreciate every precious moment we get to share our love, knowing that at this stage of life, our future together is finite.
The lover I used to be has become an obsolete identity. The lover I am now continues to learn new ways of sharing intimately and sexually, often awkwardly, always vulnerable.
May it always be so.
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