The Semi-Enlightened Man

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Picture by Ariele Alasko

Let me tell you about a type of man that I keep meeting —I call him the semi-enlightened man.

When you meet this man, he is quite charming. He’s quick to pay you compliments and seems outgoing. All good fun. The conversation goes well and maybe you even agree to meet each other for a drink. Later, over drinks, you find out more about him. He seems to be open to self-reflection and even seems to think more about the bigger picture in life. What a relief! It’s always a nice change to meet someone who ponders his own existence from time to time and doesn’t go running for the hills the moment you mention the words “feelings” or “spirituality.”

Sometimes this guy is interested in Buddhism, wears prayer beads and shows you pictures of his recent trip to Thailand. He attends weekend retreats. He tells you he recently took a massage course in Greece to reconnect his mind and body. How nice! So far so good. After all, we are all improvising our way through life, aren’t we? When I meet someone who is honest about how he’s trying to get to know himself better in order to connect on a deeper level with others,  it makes me happy as a clam! “Waiter, keep the drinks coming!”

He then goes on to tell you that he’s very interested in the psyche of women and thinks relationships are beautiful. “Finally,” I think, “a man whose focus isn’t only on the more southern parts of the female body!” He believes sex and intimacy are not necessarily the same thing. He wants to live an authentic life, not one others have designed for him. Inspiring indeed.

But then he tells you about some of the most beautiful women he has had sex with. How they just laid there and therefore the sex wasn’t great. He explains that men don’t like models because they’re too skinny. Men like women who are curvier, softer, feel good about themselves and are able to just let themselves go in bed. He says you can find out a lot about how a woman is in life by how she acts in bed. He repeats that he loves relationships, but adds that he’s very much enjoying his freedom at the moment. Then he asks if you want to come back to his place to watch a movie. Wait, what?! All of a sudden this enlightened man wants no-strings-attached, casual sex.

So, I find out that enlightenment can very quickly become a mindfuck (pun intended).

Now, of course I love that men really do like women who feel good in their own skin, but if the main reason men like this is because it improves their own sex life, then we have a huge problem. It’s almost like a woman’s self-confidence should exist first and foremost to please a man in bed.

I want to tell this man that maybe the reason these beautiful girls were just “laying there”, is because they just didn’t feel comfortable once they sensed this man was secretly degrading them. Sharing your body with someone for the first time can be extremely intimate and requires a leap of faith. You trust that the person you’re sharing your body with will appreciate you for the person you are, not grade your performance while you’re naked and vulnerable.

So what if all the self-reflective, spiritual talk is actually just a way to get a girl in bed? Then she can start her free spirited performance for Mr. Enlightenment.

The semi-enlightened man does truly exists and sometimes it’s hard to identify him before its too late. This type of guy is so busy talking about how in touch he is with himself that he often doesn’t even take the time to see you. He doesn’t listen to you—yet he somehow thinks he has you all figured out and, of course, has to share that wisdom with you. He wants you to know that you’re afraid to lose control, because obviously he knows you better than you know yourself, having spent twenty seconds with you, wherein he mainly talked about himself and his path to enlightenment.

The kind of enlightenment that I’m interested in is a different kind. It’s very simple: put love into the equation. You realize how incredibly intimate it is to be with someone, so you’re happy when you’re with that special lady, regardless of the position you’re both in. Give it some time. You’re both opening up, daring the greatest risk of all—to be vulnerable. Equally. Sincerely. No performance, just two very brave people, growing together in shared intimacy. That’s the kind of enlightenment we should be seducing each other with. Because, if you ask me, it’s sexy as hell.

Battle of The Sexes

Yesterday I had a heated conversation with friends over red wine and cherry tomatoes. We talked about the unspoken realities between the sexes and how a spoken “no” could be taken as a yes. This quickly turned into a boys vs. girls debate.  Although the topics discussed aren’t that black and white, there is some truth in it.

We talked about a girl (a friend of a friend) who is known to spend the entire night talking and flirting with a guy. Then, they walk home together and she ends up inviting him to see the beautiful view from her balcony. Now, for some (dare I say most?) guys, this evening would almost certainly end with two naked people in bed. For a girl, and for this girl specifically, this is not a sure thing. And you know what? That’s perfectly fine. Spending the evening with a guy should never make a girl feel pressured to invite him in her bed.

On the other hand, I don’t think there is anything wrong with a guy hoping his evening ends in several compromising positions. What I do have a problem with is when the guy automatically expects it to happen and if it doesn’t, he leaves, super frustrated, thinking that the whole evening was a waste of time. There is something very wrong with this sense of entitlement. That same guy will probably wind up telling his bros that the girl is a cock tease. This type of guy is like a small child that wants cookies from a cookie jar. Just because he gets one, does not mean he is entitled to all of them. If this reality makes a guy frustrated, he probably didn’t deserve the cookie in the first place.

Expectations are a tricky thing. I, myself, have been in situations with guys where there was confusion about what we both wanted, sexually. Two of these situations involved guys who I saw rather frequently. Initially, there was some attraction between us and some flirtation, but in their minds, this automatically meant that I couldn’t wait to have sex with them. One of them even literally proposed to take my virginity off my hands (Virginity is such a nuisance, isn’t it?). When I told him, “Thanks, but no thanks, I would like it to be with someone I’m in love with,” his reaction made it clear that he had not expected me to turn down his oh-so-kind offer. His only response was, “You know if I wanted to, I could easily make you fall in love with me.” Oddly enough, almost ten years later, the falling still hasn’t occurred. Needless to say, what these guys thought I wanted was far from the truth.

So yeah, thoughts vs. reality: not necessarily the same thing. It’s never okay for guys to assume that just because women act a certain way, it automatically means they’re going to get some. Newsflash: body language and flirtation are not an exact science and, as far as I know, mind-reading is still not a university major. Inviting someone up to the apartment is not the same as inviting someone in for the night. It could lead to something more or not, and both scenarios should be treated as equally plausible options.

Even if a guy finds things with a girl going further than he expected – much more kissy, touchy and exciting that also doesn’t mean he’s going to have sex for sure. I think we can all agree that putting your tongue in someone else’s mouth is not as intimate as putting a penis in someone’s vagina. As a side note, I would like to add that, while blue balls are a real thing, a lady should never feel obliged to relieve the man’s pain. So please fellas, don’t be the kind of guy who makes her feel pressured or guilty about it. 

It’s okay for people to have different assumptions about what certain actions or situations mean, because – hurray – to avoid too much confusion, we have this great gift called communication!

But sometimes, even when we communicate our desires, there can be confusion. More specifically, when we say “no.” Now, of course not all situations are the same and there is a difference between talking to someone you just met and talking to your boyfriend of seven years. But even so, I think a good rule would be: no ALWAYS means no. Not: “She said ‘no’, but her eyes said ‘yes’.” Or “She said ‘no’, but the way she said it sounded more like a ‘yes’.” Or even: “She didn’t say ‘no’ before, so she can’t say ‘no’ now.” This isn’t about offering someone a piece of chocolate. It’s about an incredibly intimate act, that, if there isn’t clear consent from both sides, can turn into a nightmare. Even if someone says “no” but means “yes,” the safest bet is to always assume “no” means “no.”

Throughout the conversation with my friends, a recurring, vital point seemed to be: don’t assume too much. Don’t think of “signs” as an exact science. Because what about men or women who say they just want casual sex? We hear stories from our friends of guys who say from the start that they aren’t looking for anything serious. But then later on, the girl starts seeing signs, leading her to believe the guy does want to date her. So often, she ends up heartbroken when she realizes that, in fact, he never changed his mind about her.

In this scenario, we can’t blame the guy, because he was honest from the start. I think we can say the same about a girl who says she doesn’t want to have (casual) sex, even if you see “signs” to the contrary.

Let’s just remember that when it comes to a situation that could end in sex, we bring our own baggage: experiences, personality, insecurities and so on. Our interpretations are not always going to match.

Even though it goes both ways, women are expected to bend more often to men’s expectations. But why should women have to adapt their behavior to the unspoken desires of men? Why should women stop talking or even dancing with guys unless they’re 100% sure they want to have sex (preferably all in one night)? A girl’s feelings about a situation are just as valuable as a guy’s. It’s not like, if a girl thinks that guys only approach her if they are ready to go steady, this is a universally acknowledged truth. Her assumptions about a guy’s intentions are not his responsibility. Same with guys thinking girls who flirt with them are always ready to go home with them.

My point is that the moment sex comes into the picture, many, many things fall into a grey area. The best we can do is try to be clear about our consent, respect the other person’s choice (even if it changes later) and have lots of consensual fun along the way. In my experience, there is nothing as exciting as being with a man I know I can say “no” to, without having to feel guilty about it.

Still confused? Maybe this Youtube video will help:

Tea consent