We were at the Steamfitter’s Ball last night and ran into many people who have been satellites in my life for years. One such encounter occurred between an older friend and one who has only known me for a couple of years. The first friend is someone I’ve known since 2003ish. The second one has only known me in my relationship with Jamie. It was an interesting encounter because the first friend was one of the first women I ever acknowledged having a crush on (to myself). Nothing came of it, and we’re still friends. But of course, the conversation started some reminiscing.
Back at that time I was a clumsy but incurable flirt, and that aspect of my personality is probably something that attracted Jamie to me. Fortunately, she recognizes that the persona I put forth to flirt with people is not threatening to our relationship–I would never act on it, and don’t even notice other people most of the time. When I was younger, and playing escort to a number of young women, I never imagined that I’d be where we are now–married to the woman of my dreams and raising a beautiful daughter together in a house we picked to suit us.
I was also struck recently by an episode of Glee, ironically. We’re a little behind on catching up with episodes, and just watched the last episode of Season 3. Kurt referred to his experiences with Blaine as “Lesbian bed death.” He was referring to the lack of spontaneity in their relationship, and the fact that Blaine appeared to be avoiding him. In the end, it turned out that Blaine’s distance was due to insecurities. He was afraid he was losing Kurt, so he distanced himself.
Jamie and I went through a similar phase, and it was one that baffled me. For the year or so before we conceived she was often unresponsive, and I felt that I was doing most of the work to keep intimacy in our relationship. I confronted her about it–probably less gently than I should have–and discovered that she was feeling insecure about her body and herself. She had gained some weight and was more sensitive about it than I realized. We were also living in an unfortunate house and we’d been trying to conceive unsuccessfully, so she was feeling very vulnerable. I had no idea before we talked about it.
I wish I could say I immediately started a long campaign to encourage and inspire her. Or that my renewed attentions transformed her back into her confident, sexy self. But my awareness of her concerns did help me understand why frustration was building between us. I went out of my way to compliment her more. A compliment kept to yourself does no one any good. And it can only help your relationship–especially your intimacy–to let your partner know how sexy they are to you.
Jamie lost a couple pounds (literally, a couple) and we changed some routines and conceived. Accomplishing that dream of hers seriously improved her confidence (and so did losing 70lb in the 9 months after the baby was born, only 50 of which had been baby gain). Things are certainly better. But I’m in the habit of dropping compliments now (Jamie would say I still don’t compliment her often enough), and that’s good for both of us. The moral of my story? Talk about intimacy, and not just in the bedroom. It will ultimately improve your partnership to communicate.