Sex with benefits

We’ve all heard of friends with benefits.  There has even been a movie recently made on the topic, which, being a romantic comedy, romanticises the notion, and of course, implies that such a course is not doomed to disaster.

The tv series, Boston Legal, also visited the subject with two of their longer-running characters.  Of course, the fact that the woman in question was a very assertive, strong woman, who controlled the connection (at one point, she had two such “friends” at the same time) and that the main friend was in love with her made the whole scenario rather untrue to life.

I know people who have walked that path.  In most cases it has led to disaster.  Way too many women think that if they go along with it, eventually the man in question will be smitten by their charms and will lay his heart at their feet.  In a couple of cases, it has worked out ok, but only when both people seriously do not want any more than a purely sexual arrangement, and both have eventually gone their separate ways quite happily.  But I personally, don’t know anyone that started off with that arrangement, and ended up together happily ever after.  No doubt it has happened, somewhere, to someone…but I would be very surprised if anyone could prove it to be a statistical probability.

So, what is friends with benefits?  It is theoretically, an arrangement where two single people agree to meet sexual needs with each other, without all the hassle of a commitment of any kind (including something as harmless as boyfriend/girlfriend).  In essence, there are no promises, no guarantees, and either party is free to walk at any time guilt-free.  It sounds very mature, practical and modern, doesn’t it?

Personally, since it is called friends with benefits, my literal assumption would be that the two people concerned were aquaintances, with common bonds and ties of friendship, and some background of liking and respect for one another.  Under those circumstances, and with suitable levels of sexual attraction for one another, and a background of social interaction which might or might not lead to sex on any given occasion, I could almost see this as being an eminently practical solution for many singles.

There is a problem though.

Many, many people who announce they want friends with benefits publicly – i.e. dating sites – are men…mostly very young men.  But for those who actually spell it out, they are not looking for any kind of friendship, or bond or social interaction with the opposite gender.  They just want to have sex without any kind of connection at all.  Most of them don’t even want to go through the parade of some kind of dating situation first.  Essentially, they want to name a time, a place, have the woman show up, satisfy the man’s needs, and then she disappears.  Purely mechanical, without any socialisation aspect to it at all.  Another, less flattering, but undoubtedly more honest name for this arrangement is a booty call.  Of course, to put it in it’s plainest, most unflattering terms, what these men want is a prostitute…but they don’t want to pay for one.  They want sex without intimacy, without developing any kind of liking or interest in the other person beforehand.  It’s the sexual equivalent of fast food.

Of course, some women are happy with this arrangement.  I haven’t personally met one yet, but I am sure they are out there.  Mind you, I am sure the real working girls must eye with disbelief, those who exchange sex for…..nothing.  I don’t know if they have a motto, but if they do, I am sure it is something like “If you’re going to get laid, then you might as well get paid!”.

This is the point at which someone is going to accuse me of being overly moral, or prudish…or possibly immoral after making up that slogan.

But seriously…isn’t it really kind of sad and pathetic when two human beings couple in a mechanical, animalistic way…without having any genuine liking or interest in the other person?  And if you are happy to walk away without a background glance afterwards,then don’t try and argue that there is genuine liking or interest.  All you really mean is the other person didn’t revolt you.

Humans are naturally social animals.  There is the odd exception, but most hermits become that way after being revolted or horrified or disgusted by the other humans they interact with.  An emotionally healthy human being, with healthy contacts with other human beings does not become a hermit.  Some people don’t need a lot of interactions, as long as those they do have are of high quality.  But we all need some.

Sexual pairings are one way to add to our level of social interaction.  Certainly the whole courtship dance, whether or not it is designed or destined to end in a permanent pairing, is quite an exciting social interaction.  The initial attraction, flirting, the build-up of sexual tension, the anticipation…all of these things add  value to our lives.   When we skip all of that, and cut straight to the mechanical aspect of sex, then we lose all that excitement…the whole adrenaline rush of courtship.

This leads me to suspect that those who seek only a no-strings attached coupling (NSA sex) are unable to achieve intimacy.  I exempt those who are in a temporary state of damage; e.g. the person who is recently out of a bad relationship, for example.  But for someone who doesn’t have that excuse….someone who simply want to “f*ck and flee” on every occasion…there is something definitely wrong with them, because a healthy social animal doesn’t work that way.

As I said, there seems to be a preponderance of them on online dating sites.  I suspect that what seems to be an excessive number may be in part due to them flooding any and all prospects with their enticing emails..”U r hott…want 2 hav sum fun?”.  But there are certainly far more of them then there should be.

So, friends without benefits is, to my mind at least, a bad idea.  So, I would like to suggest an alternative…sex with benefits.

It works this way..two people meet who are sexually attracted to one another.  Rather than running at one another like animals in rut, and then running away again after before there can possibly be any suggestion of any other kind of interaction, they take a whole new approach.  They both actually work at heightening the attraction.  They flirt, they do things like dancing (incredibly sexual activity), they learn how to seduce the other person’s mind (yes, seduction is actually very sexual…who’d have thought?), they create an environment where brushing the other person’s hand is enough to trigger that rush of excitement and thrills.  And then when the tension is at it’s height, then and only then take the steps to actually engage in the next level of intimacy…and do that in the expectation that sexual intimacy also takes time (more than one night please!) to build and heighten into something bigger and better.

Ok, maybe this won’t result in a white wedding, house in the suburbs, and 2.4 kids.  I never said they would, and in fact those results actually have very little to do with emotional intimacy…in many cases, those things can directly destroy or more frequently lead to atrophy of that intimacy.  But maybe, if more people learnt how to focus on building that intimacy in the first place, then relationships would be better overall, and have a higher success rate.

And if, to get back to my food metaphor, people ate a lot less fast food, and learnt how to cook their own gourmet meals in partnership with others…they have a far better chance of eating in style for life.  And if one cooking partnership falls apart after a while, then you are better situated to find a new cooking partner in future.  Less running from one fast food joint to another, and more long-term exploration and development of fine restaurants (if you are still hanging in with this metaphor, good for you!).

Anyway I, and I am sure a lot of other people out there don’t want an endless chain of soulless sexual encounters.  We want sex…but with all the benefits that it can bring…social interaction, emotional satisfaction, and sometimes even, an actual relationship.  Because frankly, if we are going to treat sex like a business transaction…then we might as well be getting paid for it.

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Back to the coal face – a.k.a. gym

I joined a new gym today.  For most of the twelve months, since relocating to attend university, I have worked out at home.  Functional, but not always that exciting.  I did try out the university gym for a couple of months, but since there was a definite his area/her area vibe going on (weight area/cardio area respectively), and since in any case there was only one set of hand weights under 10kg apiece, it didn’t maintain my attention for long.

So…it’s been over twelve months since I have consistently worked out in a gym.  I picked this one for a couple of reasons.  Location first up – it’s located on the path between uni and home, so very hard to avoid.  Secondly, the hours.  It’s a 24 hour gym, which works right in with my study induced insomnia.  Thirdly, it’s brand-new.  This has multiple benefits.  One is that they were offering very tempting joining offers.  Two is that there will not be a core of long-term residents who consider they “own” the place.  Three is…chock full of brand new, state of the art equipment.

By and large, I prefer free weights, primarily because you engage more muscles when using them.  Of course, machines that isolate muscles do have an important role to play, particularly for people with injuries, who wish to consider training without causing further damage to a specific area.  And of course, when you train regularly, using machines can help to break up routines, and eliminate monotony.

So, I am intrigued by the range of new designs this gym holds.   Since I don’t work out of a gym, I haven’t really kept up with the latest and greatest designs in machines, and obviously, I am going to be broadening my knowledge base in that regard.

So, the next few weeks are going to be  interesting, as I find my way about this place, and more importantly, work out a whole new routine…and hopefully find some interesting things to write about.

Great ankles, awful knees.

First sports medicine class on taping techniques yesterday.  After a session on how to do it right, we were all armed with tape, and directed to team up with someone else.  Being lucky that way, I ended up with two somebody else’s, and since I had already been nominated to be the first victim…er, patient…this meant I had both ankles being taped at the same time.  Just as well I wore running pants to the class.

The moment of entertainment for me, was when the assistant tutor came to check my two classmates’ technique.  She is twenty something, and currently on crutches as a result of ankle surgery.  Blithely she asks me what ankle injuries I have sustained in my life.  Just as blithely, I answered none.  She looked at me…hard.  “Never?” she asks? “Nope” I replied.  All around me are my fellow students, many of them considerably younger than me.  Having not much to do while my ankles were strapped up, I had been eavesdropping on conversations all around me.  The class was riddled with all these healthy young things, whose ankle joints appear to be on the point of needing replacement.  And here am I, well, not ancient, but not twenty-something either, freely jumping up and down to prove just how great my ankles are.  It was a happy moment.

Just as well she didn’t ask me about my knees…

Did Grandma eat plastic food?

Mine certainly didn’t.  She did eat a lot of things that are now frowned upon, in quantities that defy the government approved dietary principles of today.  And yet strangely enough, she was thin as a rake her entire life, and pretty healthy too.  And her diet didn’t kill her; that was the shock of losing her only daughter that made her give up living.  It was her mind that killed her, not her food.

So what did Grandma eat?  I spent nearly all my school holidays with her as a teenager, so I am well-versed in that subject.

Lamb was pretty popular.  She’d cook up chops in a casserole, and that would last several nights in a row.  This is old fashioned lamb too; not the heart smart, lean cuts.  Sausages were also popular – and they weren’t anything fancy either.  She usually had take-away once a week; either fish and chips, or fried chicken, chips, and a pineapple fritter, cooked by her local store…not a chain fast-food restaurant.

She ate mashed potato, nearly every night, made with full-cream milk and butter.  She used a lot of butter in her cooking.  She ate toast with butter and Vegemite for breakfast most mornings.  Lunch varied; sometimes a sandwich, sometimes leftovers.  She never threw food out; always ate it up.

So, what didn’t she eat?

Not a lot of bread…a loaf would easily last her one week.  Never pasta, and rice was something that turned up in a rice pudding, not a risotto.  She didn’t eat plastic food – the kind of food that has a list of ingredients on the label, half of which are created in laboratories.  She didn’t drink soft drink/soda…it was either tea or water.  And the water came out of a rainwater tank, which always had a faint tang of kerosene (which she used to pour on top to kill mosquitoes).  She didn’t eat breakfast cereal, aside from porridge/oats in the winter, and so avoided all the sugars and flavourings used to make modern cereals attractive.

She grew some of her own food; raspberries, and almonds and tomatoes and beans and peas – I will always remember helping her to shell big bowlfuls of peas.  She made some of her own jams too; apricot and plum, and would sometimes make tomato sauce too, if the crop was plentiful.  She never bought commercially made cake.

Her diet wasn’t exciting, or rich with the food of other cultures, or balanced according to a government promoted guideline.  It was plain,and plentiful, and real.  A bit of bread, some meat, potatoes,  a few different vegetables, a bit of fruit.  Full cream milk, full-fat butter, and white cooking fat if she was frying something.  She walked her dog for a couple of miles every morning, and spent a couple of hours per week in her garden.  She was quite healthy for all but the last two years of her life, which considering she didn’t undertake weight-bearing exercise to strengthen her bones, or maintain muscle tissue was fairly remarkable…or it would be today.  Back when I was young, and spending time with her, most of her counterparts were also in reasonably good health.  Heavily overweight people were rare – the morbidly obese we see today were virtually non-existent then.  And yet we consider our diets to be so much better today?

There are lessons to be learned here.

How do you lose 6 kilos (13 pounds) in a week?

The answer is simple…you can’t!  Well, short of very expensive plastic surgery.

There has been a tv ad running recently, in which this man talks about his wonderful weight loss system, and confides that he conducted a survey of 8000 participants in this system, who allegedly achieved an average weight loss of 6 kilos per week.    I am assuming that most of them had died (and putrefaction was lowering the weight of the corpse) or they had their legs bitten off by sharks, or something of that nature..or a lot of them had liposuction.

The thing is, whenever someone makes claims like this, refuse to beleive a word of it until you have perused an authenticated (by you, not them) independent study, conducted according to approved scientific protocols.  Aneccdotal evidence (i.e.” my clients have told me this!”) is not scientific or legitimate.  or to put it another way…if anyone had devised a way that consistently enabled people to lose an average of 6 kilos in one week, they would be begging reputable scientists in the exercise physiology/dietetics fields to verify these results, because then that person would patent the method and become a billionaire overnight.  This man is just working on becoming a millionaire by manipulating and deceiving the unwary and desperate into handing over money.

Current scientific thinking tells us that the optimum overall fat loss goal per week is 0.5-1 kilos (1-2 pound).  One of the reasons for this is that there is a physiological reaction to losing fat too quickly.  Those pesky cells we have, decide that we are starving and swing into action to conserve whatever body fat you still have, as well as valuable muscle tissue, and fat loss comes to a screaming halt.  The optimal amounts are precisely those, because they fly under the cells’ radar, and they will let you get away with it.

There is also the fact that you didn’t put the fat on that quickly…it was a slow process (if you tried to gain six kilos in a week, you would be gorging yourself on extremely high-calorie, unhealthy foods, and your body would reject them; i.e. you’d make yourself ill).  So, it has to be an equally steady and consistent process to remove the fat.  You also have to factor in, that in an effective fat-loss program, it includes changes to both eating and exercise habits.

Then there is the muscle tissue aspect.  The more you have (obtained through resistance training) the more calories your body needs to burn to maintain each day (effectively increasing your metabolic rate).  Conversely, when you expend energy (calories) too quickly, some of them come from your muscle tissue, rather than from your body fat.  Hence, you lower your metabolic rate, and make it even harder to lose more weight.

Weight loss is simple; eliminate most, if not all processed food from your diet; get your carbohydrates from vegetable sources; eat lean organic meat (that hasn’t been pumped full of growth hormones) minimise sugar intake (never, ever, EVER eat artificial substitutes; use raw sugar, stevia or honey where sweetening is required), avoid corn syrup like the plague (you do realise corn is what beef-lot cattle are fed, as it fattens them more quickly?), learn to read labels on food packaging.  Then incorporate more physical movement into your life, on a daily basis.  And preferably make it part of your life, not something you see as a chore.  Make good lifestyle changes and fat loss will follow in the footsteps of those changes.

 

But forget about massive overall weight loss in just one week…unless you are so desperate to look lighter on the scales that you really will offer your leg to a shark!

Learn to date – Part one

This is for both genders…no-one is exempt!

I have become quite taken by a song by country singer Shea Fisher, titled  “Don’t chase me (‘less you’re willing to catch me)”.  In the murky waters of dating and relationships, I believe she has a quite valid point to make.

For some people – too many people – the search for the One has resulted in a long and messy trail of first-and-only dates, short-term relationships, and what seems to be rising levels of infidelity (both men and women) within marriages.

I think relationships are yet another casualty of our retail mentality.  Which is too say, we do a lot of window shopping, cruising from store to store, trying on one person after another, and throwing them aside because they are not “perfect” for us.

Now, I am the last to advocate settling for someone you don’t love deeply.  Settling is a very, very bad thing.  But what I am saying is that if you find someone who is close to your ideal, then actually give them a chance.  Stop making every little thing on your “perfect partner” list into a deal-breaker.  And bear something else in mind – if you do find someone, who is perfect is every respect…what makes you think that YOU live up to their standard of perfection?  Yes, it does work both ways.

Being single, I have my fair share of those one-and-only dates.  Some of them are one-and-only for very good reasons.  Like the guy I met for lunch, who proclaimed himself to be a spirit healer, and then tried to use that to persuade me that I needed to listen to the spirits (through him) and become his lover (yes, this is over a LUNCH date!) in an open-ended relationship.  Open-ended because the spirits had told him he would be meeting his soul mate later in the year, so he couldn’t commit to anyone else.  Er, yes.  The point being, if you meet a loser, nutcase or anyone else waving red flags, run for the hills.  If they are so boring you would gnaw your own arm off to get away, then say “thanks so much, wish you luck in your search, goodbye”.

But if he or she is most of the way there, but just not your laundry list heart-throb…for heavens sake, give them a chance.  At least 3-4 dates in different environments just to see if they do have potential as a person.  After all, if not your one and only, perhaps they might make a really great friend (and one whom you can then set up with your single friends).  Consider it to be networking.  And remember there is no possible way for someone’s great qualities to all emerge in the course of one date.

We create a great deal of misery and loneliness for ourselves because of the way we approach dating.  We often have unrealistic expectations of the other person, and are subsequently disappointed when they fail to perform as we had visualised.  Remember, they are a person too, and may be as nervous as you (or even more nervous!).  Also, there is a tendency to behave differently on a first date – trying to be the person you think the other person wants you to be (this ties into the whole expectation thing).

So essentially, what I am urging is this…try and get past the first-and-only date block.  Give them three or four to allow you to find out more about them.  Treat them as a person and not a commodity.  Dating is meant to be a process of getting to know someone…not making snap judgments.

Mind your manners (online)

I have read many articles about how people behave differently online.  In many cases, the anonymity of an online profile frees one up from the consequences of speaking inadvisedly.  This has then encouraged some people to be deliberately provocative in what they say, knowing they will never personally be called to account. Continue reading