A lot of people seem to be able to take or leave romantic/sexual relationships to a greater extent than I can. In the past I’ve berated myself for being so…single-minded in my pursuit of companionship. I mean, in high school I was absurdly desperate for male attention because I completely defined my worth as a person around my sexual desirability. But I’ve worked hard on my self-esteem and I think my attitudes are much healthier now. So why do I still chase guys so hard? And why do I consistently put up with way too much bullshit from guys I’m already seeing, and give way too much benefit of the doubt to iffy dudes I’ve just met?
I have had an epiphany, and it’s one that should have been obvious long before now but oh well.
My skin is incredibly sensitive to touch. Many, many men have told me that they’ve never known another woman like this. When I trust someone and my guard is down, they can make me go completely nonverbal with pleasure by lightly stroking my skin anywhere. A fingertip run across my eyebrow will make me fight to keep my knees from collapsing under me. Little circles drawn on my inner elbow will turn me into a shuddering, wailing mess. When I’m caressed I can feel it releasing bursts of endorphins in my brain. It’s like little fireworks inside my skull, and if I’m touched enough I’ll often have an orgasm of sorts – not the crotch part but the brain chemistry part, a sudden tremendous warm feeling of happiness and release, immediate like a switch being flipped.
When I’m anxious or stressed out, one of the best remedies is one of those braingasms from touch – and I can’t give one to myself. It seems to require me to be completely passive, for one thing. The best and fastest way to push my brain into release-mode is by petting my back, for another, and I can’t comfortably reach. So I kinda need another person to get me to my happy place, and this is not the kind of thing I can find just anywhere. I need to trust whoever it is enough to have them in my apartment and get naked with them. They need to be willing to devote themselves to touching me in relatively nonsexual ways for at least ten minutes (my experience with picking up guys is that they are usually pretty selfish and want to cut right to the chase, the chase being “doing stuff to their penis”). They probably need to be attractive enough that I’ll want to get them off, because most guys aren’t gonna be up for just petting me and that’s it (which I don’t have any huge problem with, for the record; seems pretty natural that getting me naked and making me moan is gonna turn most guys on and make them hope for more, and TBH I find the whole thing somewhat sexual too which is why I specifically seek out men for the task). So there’s an audition process, of sorts. I can’t exactly put an ad on Craigslist every time I have the need and be assured of finding someone willing and suitable.
I think to most other people, being touched is very nice and pleasurable and everything, and sometimes they crave it, but if they can’t have it it’s not that big a deal. Like craving a bowl of mac & cheese or something. For me touch is more like heroin. I’m miserable without it so I want to make sure I have a source at all times, and a backup source or two in case the first one isn’t around when I’m jonesin’. And if one of my sources starts being kind of a dick, I’m still loath to let him go because that’ll diminish my supply by at least 33%.
So it’s not actually relationships I’m chasing, as I’d initially assumed. That obsession did indeed die out sometime in my thirties along with most of my self-esteem problems. I’m comfortable being alone with my thoughts (when I tell people I make my living as an art model, a lot of them have an initial reaction of “I could never spend that much time inside my head with no distractions” – well, I can, and I like it fine). I like doing things by myself. I like living by myself, and can’t imagine sharing my space with another person again even if I’m in love with them. But I need regular skin-to-skin contact.