Technology is amazing. I love it. I feel super disconnected whenever I can’t check my email and naked without my phone. And yet, the more we** feel “connected” to others via technology — the ability to have a face-to-face conversation with someone across the world, to constantly be available by text — the more distant we seem to feel from the people around us. How often do you go out to dinner and look around and see tables of people who aren’t even conversing with one another, but instead have their eyes glued to the screen in front of them? There’s a paradox at work here: technology has made us feel closer together, yet has the ability to drive us further apart. As a result, we don’t experience the connection and intimacy we crave in all our relationships, particularly the romantic ones.
We experience this phenomenon as ‘distance’ from our loved ones — not physical distance, but rather emotional. Sure, we go through the motions, perform as one is expected to in a relationship, but the performance is based on habit, duty or maintaining the status quo, not from passion or desire.
What has happened is that we have isolated ourselves in our own heads. Sure, we’re near each other, but we’re lost in our own thoughts, our own internal reality, which we don’t often share with one another. We don’t tell the truth about what is happening inside the very active mind and so we fall back on roles, conditioning, stories and assumptions. For example, while out with your lover, you see another to whom you are attracted. It has been ingrained into you that if you were to tell your monogamous love about your attraction, it would ruin your relationship; he’d be so jealous that the relationship would fall apart. So you swallow it down, try not to notice, and perhaps imagine it’s that handsome stranger with whom you’re making love to later. Instead of sharing with the person (with whom you want be closest in the world) the thing that touches your hunger deep down inside and makes you feel alive and voracious, you ignore it in an attempt to tame it and pretend it doesn’t exist. But it does exist and by stuffing it down, it becomes a thing that comes between you two and eventually drives you further apart. So you play the part of the good woman, all the while piles of unspoken desires mount up around you and turn into resentment.
The reason we let all these things go unspoken is fear. We walk around fearing other people — how they will perceive us, react to us, judge us or reject us. And so we hold ourselves back and don’t ask for what we really want (or speak desires). We don’t want the other to be hurt, jealous or make us look and feel wrong. But it is when we tell the truth that we come closer together because then we can interact with what’s really happening between us rather than going with the storyline that’s playing out in our minds.
I practice and teach something called Orgasmic Meditation, which is a partnered sexuality practice. I have learned many lessons through my practice, but primary amongst them is always asking for or saying what I want. If I don’t, that thought will just continue to circulate over and over in my head. I may not always get it, but I don’t have to wonder or obsess like I did in the past. This was underlined for me a few months ago. I was hanging out with a guy whom I really liked, and I thought he liked me too. We totally hit it off, made each other laugh and really enjoyed each other’s company. Soon after we had first met, we were hanging out, talking and laughing on his couch. When there was a pause in the conversation, I blurted out, “I really want to make out with you!” He looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t feel that way.” He went on to thank me for saying something, how it took so much courage and so on and so forth. I barely heard most of it because I was thinking to myself, ‘okay this stings a bit, yep, still stings, okay now it’s awkward, awkward, awkward.’ Then I took a breath and realized I was still alive and hadn’t died from shame or embarrassment. We laughed a bit, then moved on with the conversation and kept hanging out.
This conversation was a relief. I no longer had to wonder whether this was the time we would make out or when he would make a move — he wasn’t going to — and I now know where I stand with him. In allowing myself to be vulnerable and open up to him, it brought us closer together. He didn’t laugh at me, tell me I was crazy or reject me, he just didn’t share my desire, and now we are better friends for it.
I could not have predicted his reaction when I told him I wanted to kiss him. That’s never possible because we can’t read other’s minds! Since you never have any control over what’s going on with them anyway, holding back in an effort to guard him from you and protect yourself is a fruitless endeavor. Letting it out allows you to interact with what’s there rather than try to pretend it doesn’t exist and hope it will go away. It also allows you to feel closer to one another because it lets people in on what’s happening inside your head and then you can talk, negotiate from there. Saying what you want doesn’t always mean you’ll get it, but it sets you free from the thought and brings you closer together. The truth is the elixir of love.
** When I’ve talked about “we” throughout this piece, I’m talking about the collective we — all of us: you, me, your best friends, your sisters, your mother, your sons and your your daughters (unless you show them another way to be open and honest in relationships). We’ve lived in these stale old stories pretending we don’t want the things we truly desire for too long. It’s time for a new way of relating so that as technology develops, so does our ability to connect with one another and feel the close intimacy we so crave.
Alison Ogden is a Sensual Coach and Agent of Orgasm. She is a Sex, Relationship, and Desire Coach, Orgasmic Meditation Trainer-in-training (Certification Nov ‘13), and speaker. She believes that telling the truth and asking for what you want leads to turn on, which infuses your whole life – relationships, love, family, career, your body – with a sense of playfulness, enjoyment and bliss. Alison works with singles and couples, and can be contacted for a Desire-Led Life Discovery Session at firstname.lastname@example.org.