I was dating a guy for a couple of months, when one night as we were laughing and running up the steps to my home he slapped my butt from behind and jokingly said “come on, let me use you a little more”!! OMG! Time froze, I froze, he froze. Joke or no joke, every cell in my body responded with decades of women empowerment, women’s rights, misogyny etc etc. I stopped. Took a deep breath and then something in that fraction of a moment, shifted in my brain. I turned around firmly, put my hands on his shoulders, looked him eyeball to eyeball and said, “let’s get one thing straight, You’re not using me, I’m using you”. And I smiled, turned around, sashayed up the steps and said, “come on”. He just stood there utterly bewildered at the exchange and went “wow! That was brutal”. Now, I know he’s a really wonderful person and truly never intended it to come out the way it did. But whether it was the alcohol, the moment of merriment as he was chasing me up the steps or a sheer lapse of finesse, the fact is I could have responded very differently. I could have perhaps got hysterical, slapped him, shut him out, broken out into tears, gone into shock etc etc, but you are only a “victim” if you allow yourself to see yourself that way.
Decades of programming tell us that it’s okay for a single man to have sex, but a woman must cherish her virginity. We are so often told that men will ‘use women’ for sex, as if women don’t enjoy the act of sex equally. Why is it that when a couple hooks up, a guy is classically seen as having scored, and a girl seen as someone who was the goal? Sex is the most natural act, a physical need for both sexes, but we associate it with shame, guilt, immorality and have eyes of judgement on every aspect of being sexually aware of active. Even masturbation, which is just you pleasuring yourself has deep rooted seeds of immorality associated with it. Why do we stop people from feeling good or equal about something that is normal, a need and pleasurable? If it is done with consent, is legal and mutual why should these huge mental blocks exist? And the strange part is, it’s largely people who have had sex, and those who enjoy sex who are judging others for enjoying it. Why? Because we are conditioned to do so. Pre-marital sex was hugely taboo a couple of decades ago, and living together considered a great sin. A lot has changed, and continues to change, and with it must change how we perceive the role and rights of women and men and hence ourselves. Women always have a choice to say no, so do men. Men have the right to have meaningless sex or meaningful relationships, and so do women. For the record, the incident I started this column with, well, it grew into a very deep and beautiful relationship and though it didn’t go the distance we remain greatest friends till date.
1. I am a 26-year-old, single girl living alone in Mumbai. I have had two failed relationships and in both cases, my boyfriends wanted to have sex and I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of indulging in physical relations without a commitment. My girlfriends tell me that I am old fashioned and I lost two wonderful men because I was acting funny and uptight. What do you suggest I do? Is a relationship not possible without sex being involved?
Times have changed and in general, It’s very difficult for a guy in his late 20’s to be without intimacy in a relationship. You need to define commitment. If it means marriage, then go for an arranged marriage, if it means steady dating it’s fair to meet someone for couple of months to ascertain whether you like them enough to be in a long term relationship. Also, sex plays a very vital role for many couples, so testing sexual compatibility is important to many who choose to date before jumping into formal commitments.
2. I am 49. I recently lost my wife to cancer. She endured a long battle with the illness and we both battled it till she succumbed. It has been a few months now. As much as my children have been supportive of me and have urged me to step out and make new friends, find a companion, I feel a sense of guilt at the thought of bringing someone else into my life. It’s almost the feeling of cheating on my wife. Maybe my thoughts are outdated, but is it possible to find a companion at this stage in life where I am emotionally eroded to a very large degree?
There are 5 stages of loss, Denial, Anger, Grief, bargaining and acceptance as per the Kubler Ross method and you must go through each one for complete healing. It’s not fair to you or the partner you meet to have unrest loom large. However, it’s not abnormal to have rebound relationship, or to simply lean on someone to unburden, grieve, understand yourself and to come slowly and steadily to terms with new realities. You should be guilt free as you did your best and loved her to the end. After this, it’s your journey and you must make the most of what this planet has to offer, whether it is with or without another companion. You will know when you are ready, and there should be no harm, shame or guilt about it. You aren’t hurting anyone except your own self.
3. I’m a pet-lover and for a large part of my 30-something life, I have at least had a dog at home. My parents got me engaged to a man who hates the sight of animals in the house. It’s an arranged match with a family friend’s son. I thought he had seen me enough to know that I cannot live without my dogs and birds around me. He’s persistent in breaking our engagement if I don’t give up on the idea of having pets at home. My parents are also on his side. I don’t know what to do…Please help.
As you journey forward you will have a huge set or roles and responsibilities upon you, including having children of your own. If the guy is wonderful it’s fair to perhaps understand his aversion and work through it. You can always visit your pets in your parent’s home. However, if you cannot palate a life without pets then it is best to say goodbye to him and his petphobia.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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