Identity: Life's Superimposed Sex vs. Love Scale

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

If you think age and wisdom doesn't shift perception and priorities, think again.

I remember first hearing the following phrase when I was in my early twenties: "Women give sex to get love. Men give love to get sex." Back then I didn't agree or disagree with this concept. I think it registered more as a curiosity. Is this true? At that time when I gave sex or love I felt confused about too many other pending and prominent issues in my budding identity, to fully acknowledge or analyze the bargaining power inherent in that statement.

In my thirties, I thought women gave sex to get orgasms. I did. I was on a quest. Most of my friends were already married by that time, but I was NOT in a hurry to walk that path. What religion and society set up as the proper lifestyle, obedient commitment to one man, seemed unnatural and I was not willing to blindly sign on the dotted line and trust the "system" that was set up for me to follow. By that time I'd had enough sex that was stupid, enough sex that was unsatisfying, and enough sex that was superficial. I'd had one all-night glimpse of Tantric bliss when I was twenty-six and it ignited in me a fever for continued satiation as well as a fear of forever falling short of achieving that fantasy.

I'd hear womenfolk commenting that they just wanted to snuggle... they just wanted the connection, the closeness, the cooing and coiled effect when wrapped up in "his" arms. I'd hear some say they could take it or leave it. If they never had it again, that would be just fine with them. Huh? Seriously? How could they feel that shopping, children and lunching with other ladies would suffice, when after three weeks without a poke my body felt so on edge that my lower extremities were actually clawing up the wall, inch by inch behind me?

During most of my forties, I'd found a man who could deliver three hours of orgasm three or four times a month. He could even surrender into the afterglow and intermittently give me permission to luxuriously rest there as well. But the more he sexually pleased me, the more I wanted him emotionally and that, I found, was impossible. I had attained my decade long search for sexual satiation, but my heart was forever hurt, hungry, and unhappy regardless however my mind rationalized the reasons why it was okay for me to live this way.

For years imbibing a little nature and sipping a little nectar only enhanced those orgasms... Then I realized I was getting to the Promised Land but not remembering what I did when I got there. This disturbed me. I wanted to bring down to earth the gifts of heaven. I wanted to remember the directions on how I was getting there. I wanted to leave more than bread crumbs along the path that seemed to always blow away when intense winds swirled around our exalted bodies.

I was certain that what I felt at the top of the mountain, surveying the panorama of all I'd just climbed, was something that must be shared. What if Ansel Adams hadn't felt this way about nature? Would those of us afraid of big insects ever see that which took four days of camping to get to? This beauty, this powerful majestic feeling of health when unionizing my body mind and spirit had to be patented. Didn't it? Couldn't it? Wasn't this the proverbial hunt, to capture that which couldn't be captured and market it in a pretty package for the masses wishing and hoping to forever one day attain the impossible? (The pet rock of pleasure?)

How could I feel sex was this fabulous when other women could care less about it? Obviously they weren't seeing the vista my eyes saw, or feeling what I was allowing myself to feel.

In 2009, Oprah and Dr. Laura Berman handed out vibrators to teenage girls, instructing them that they own their pleasure. They weren't dependent on a boy/man to take them there, or because he could take her there, that he owned her or that feeling in her she liked so much. Nearing half a century myself, I marveled at the brilliance of this lesson, and the power it placed back into the hands of females that they own their own bodies. At a time when girls give blow jobs to win popularity contests in junior high school, it doesn't matter that their female ancestors had hard won the vote ninety years prior. When a girl/woman gives herself away unconsciously, she pays a price.

I am only now beginning to realize I own my body in every moment; with every break I take and every decision I make. Even if I don't personally have the focus necessary to have as many orgasms as I could with a certain individual, those orgasms are available in every minute, not only when with that certain individual. I can tell a doctor I won't endure a particularly painful, time and dollar wasting procedure. He MIGHT have med school on his side, but I have experience living within my own skin that a fifteen-minute office visit with this professional will never translate. I can decide whether an environment is supportive to my needs. If a restaurant is too loud, or a movie theater is too cold, I can walk out. It is up to me to take care of my needs, not acquiesce because it's socially acceptable or because that's what we women are taught to do.

That's why it became necessary to truly live within my own skin. To stop giving away my power to stop giving sex to get love or giving love to get sex. I've done both now.

When I met my latest lover, I thought he was the most handsome man I'd ever dated. Both of us were physically starving and our animal magnetism had us groping each other within moments upon impact. We literally and figuratively couldn't keep our hands off each other once we got the go ahead from others we trusted that the other was a "good person." Yet, from the very beginning I realized that even though we had the physical and emotional elements intertwined and growing in our connection, the intellectual and spiritual bond between us was missing. Incessant rationalizing began immediately... how can I live without what isn't present?

My engine of arousal wasn't easy to maintain without all cylinders present and functioning. Soon, I was pushing my body and ignoring my brain. Within four months, I had two bladder infections in a row after years of never having one. It was a dynamic lesson in the nuance of subtle self-abuse and ignorant soul neglect while wandering along the holistic and enlightened path to finding self and merging with The Other.

Just as a Geiger counter or metal detector has a specific purpose but might be used for other reasons, our body does more than carry our brains hither and yonder. It is a thermometer, which doesn't lie. Yet we must listen carefully to it, not poison it. We can't say yes when we want to say no. Repressing our needs, any of our needs, without conscious reckoning of such a behavior will also induce nasty side effects. I learned I must become evermore diligent and super conscious, which is not an easy task, but it can lessen one's health care costs.

We lose ourselves when we don't pay attention to ourselves. We do this to ourselves. We can blame another, but we created the situation either consciously or unconsciously, and acquiesced with permission or denial. We put ourselves in each position we find ourselves in. If we pay attention our intuition protects us. If we don't listen within, we can walk into traps on a daily basis.

The question becomes not if we give one thing to get another, but if we give enough to ourselves, to then have enough self, to give to another.

Next month I'll enter my fifth decade. I can't single-handed create "Camelot" if my daily scene is more "My Fair Lady." Finding one Camelot for all my different selves is very difficult... I am not an uncomplicated woman, but in my core I am really quite simple. My desire might be for one relationship that has all cylinders functioning and flowing together: physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual. My needs are much more simple. To honestly present myself as I am, and to honor a person as they present themselves to be...

I've heard it is now documented that ladies far into their 70s, 80s and possibly even their 90s can have juicy thriving sex/love lives. I intend to be one of those women. I continue to nourish my centered solitude so if another isn't right, and their presence causes a separation or scrambling within me of my many selves, I'll be kind and graceful in response.

My safest bet when exploring where I stand on the Sex Love Continuum, is to make sure my intuition gets a daily tune-up and extra breath vitamins.