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Turning it Offs
In the last chapter we discussed the barriers that too much talk or too little talk erects to preclude Sexual Chemistry. But there are other barriers that can either stop the chemistry from ever getting started or destroy it once it does start.
It mustn't be thought that barriers, in themselves, are bad or destructive. There are times when we want the barriers as protection. If two people who feel sexually attracted are married they need sex therapy , but not to each other, and want to protect their marriages, each may erect defensive barriers.
Sometimes the barrier is quite subtle. Twisting a wedding ring sends out a signal of I am spoken for. Watch out! Mentioning the fact of a boyfriend or girlfriend sends the same signal -not as definite, because boyfriends and girlfriends can be displaced more easily than husbands and wives.
When two good friends, for one reason or another, find themselves in a situation that generates sexual chemistry, they may both want to turn it off. Merry and Chuck were such friends and Love and the Amphetamines. Both were married, and the two couples saw each other frequently on a social basis. Both worked in computer programming, in different companies, and one June they found themselves traveling together to a convention in a nearby city.
"Attractive first," Merry explained, "we were delighted. Neither of us knew anyone at the convention, and we clung together in defense, both of us checking into the convention hotel. We attended the same seminars, and compared notes, ate dinner together, and that night we went up to the big circular bar on the top tower of the hotel, the one that rotates and gives you a wonderful panorama of the city.
"We listened to some jazz, and then they began playing old dance tunes and we danced together, had a few drinks and at first talked business, and then.. I guess the drinks loosened out inhibitions, and out talk became more personal, more intimate.
"I don't know when it was, but all at once I knew that something was going on between us. I began to realize how attractive Chuck was, how much we had in common- I could never talk to my husband about my work-and how easy, how terribly easy, it would be to fall into bed with Chuck that night.
"I think we both realized it at the same time, and I think the same kind of panic hit us both. Neither one of us wanted to risk out marriage by anything as foolish as a quick affair after a few drinks. At just about the same time, we both started talking about our families- Chuck's wife, my husband, our kids. It would have been funny if it weren't so serious, but it worked. The chemistry that had been building up between us was turned off completely. "
The barrier that Merry and Chuck put up can work not only with two close friends, but also with a friends lover or anyone else you don't wish to get involved with- a boss where involvement might be dangerous, or with any person you feel is on the taboo list. There are times when any barrier you erect may be extremely helpful, but of course there are other times, situations where you want the sexual chemistry to continue, when the barriers may defeat your purpose.
The Busy Ploy
A Classic barrier that someone may use without being aware of the fact is the "busy ploy. " According to Sally, the busy ploy ruined any chance at sexual chemistry between herself and her boyfriend.
"He's compulsive doer," she complained. "Most of the time he acts as if he had a rocket up his ass. He's never satisfied with a quiet evening or a quiet day. We always have to be doing something on our dates, going somewhere, driving out to the beach on Sunday- and never mind lying in the sun, it's swimming and volleyball on the sand and a quick game of touch football with a gang of friends he'll manage to pick up. In the winter it's skiing or indoor tennis. At night it's dancing or some fast-paced show at a nightclub.He can't sit still long enough for the theater or even a movie. He's constantly on the go.
"Last year we had a two-week vacation together, and I thought finally we'd slow down long enough for some real chemistry to take place, but no -it had to be the Club Med, with a program that took care of every minute of the day!
"I couldn't take it, and a few months ago I told him that it was all off, and do you know what? He couldn't understand why. 'We have so much fun together, 'he kept saying. 'We're always doing things. ' Believe me, the next guy I tangle with is going to be real mellow. If we do nothing at all it'll make me happy, as long as we have time enough to know each other!"
sally's complaint was justified. With all the motion and activity going on, it was impossible for the two of them to get together in a serious sense. The need to fill every hour of the day with some kind of "doing" can act as a very effective barrier to the development of real Keeping Sexual Chemistry Alive.
Even in a marriage his hyperactivity can interfere with growing closeness and understanding. let one partner be consumed by a hobby to the exclusion of everything else and it becomes an eroding factor in the relationship. "My husband," one housewife said unhappily, " is a gifted model builder. He used to be a contractor, but he's retired now, and I had hoped that these retirement years would give us both a chance to get closer. He always drove himself so hard at work, worked such late hours and even brought his work home. We hardly knew each other after all his years on the job.
"Once he retired he threw himself into the building of model drag lines and steam shovels. He machines all the parts in his basement workshop, and his models are so perfect that the big heavy-equipment companies buy them from him for thousands of dollars. I suppose I should be glad that he's kept busy and that we have the extra money, but I'm not. I feel left out, neglected, just as I did during the early years of our marriage, when he worked so hard. What was it all for? Now, when we have real change to get to know each other, he's busier than ever, always occupied, and I sense that my feelings for him are slowly dying out. "
This wife's experience was matched by a husband's complaint that his wife used housework to block off any sexual chemistry. "She's always busy. If it's not cooking, then it's cleaning or doing something for the kids. I know things have to get done, but my God, she manages to fill every working minute with some activity, and she leaves absolutely no time for us, for me and her. "
Of course, the opposite side of the activity coin can also be an effective barrier. If a mate or lover is lethargic, burying his nose in a book, content to spend the night in front of the TV, it can be just as frustrating to the other partner. Too little activity is just as bad as too much, and both raise effective barriers to sexual chemistry.
Smart And Dumb
Among the more effective barriers that eventually destroy sexual chemistry is the barrier of the mind, the intellectual barrier. Someone who is well educated, but not psychologically knowledgeable enough to size up a situation and a partner, may use in overeducated and pretentious vocabulary in an attempt to make an impression. The impression usually made is one of bewilderment.
"I liked Richard the first time we met," a young lady told us. "he's attractive and has a nice build. I'm very athletic myself, and I took for that in a man. Then, when I found out he was majoring in modern lit at college, I was delighted. It's my field too. The trouble was, after ten minutes he turned me off completely. It was as if he had spent the day browsing through the dictionary and was determined to use every big word he came across. I mean, for Christ's sake, who uses tendentiousness, panegyric ally, and commodious in the same sentence? Tacky! I just turned off, and that was that.
But as silly as Richard's overblown vocabulary sounded to this young lady, the opposite situation can be just as bad. Another woman we spoke to told us about a blind date she had with a professional athlete. "I almost licked my lips when we were introduced. He was one delicious hunk of a man, blond hair and those bright blue eyes, and those shoulders!
"But it took only half an hour before what I felt in those first few minutes was dead. There was absolutely nothing we could talk about. He didn't read. He knew nothing about politics , and cared less. He didn't like music, the dance, or the theater. Oh, he could talk sports, but that was it. Whatever chemistry was in the air blew right away. now I know what men mean when they talk about dumb blonds!
The sad thing about this encounter, we learned later, was that this athlete was not quite the boob he made himself out to be. Somewhere along the line he had latched on to the idea that women liked the strong , silent type of man, that being too smart killed any sort of The Many Phase of Sexual Chemistry, and that there was something adorable about being lowbrow.
Putting on a "dumb" act of any kind is as much a barrier to sexual chemistry as putting on an "intellectual" act. "I didn't go to college so I can't understand that statement," even said in sarcasm, is too often only a decision not to try to get to the bottom of things.
The list of barriers to sexual chemistry increase as you start to think about them. There are the "space cadets" who seem to be so out of heal touch with reality that they not only march to a different drummer but seem to live in an alternate universe. Johnny is like that. He forgets appointments, never gets anywhere on time, can't hold on to a job because it never seems that meaningful, and sometimes even forgets to change his clothes. "There's too much on my mind," though what the too much is never clear.
His latest girlfriend, Martha, put up with it for a month, and then she gave up. "I really thought there was something going between us, but I'm slowly coming to realize that I'm just not that important to Johnny, not if he can forget dates we make, drift off somewhere in the middle of a conversation, or spend the entire evening in his own little world. I've had it.
Johnny was bewildered when Martha life. He couldn't understand what had happened or realize that the absent-minded attitude he cultivated was a block to any true conversation. In a reaction to Johnny, Martha took up with a very cool, very hip character. He was definitely "with it. " But this didn't last long either. "The trouble is," Martha admitted sadly, "he was so hip, so cool, that I could never get through that savvy exterior of his to discover whether there was any real feeling underneath it.
The "with it" attitude this man assumed was just as much a barrier to sexual chemistry as Johnny's "space cadet" act. The flaky-cool types of barriers are destructive to any real relationship, and just as destructive is the "sex pot" barrier.
The local "sex pot" who wears far too much makeup, bleaches her hair to a dazzling shine, and dresses in clothes a little too tight and a lot too revealing, is putting up as much of a facade as the town "Romeo" who keeps count of all his "scores" and lets it get out that he's the biggest stud at local bar.
Neither the sexpot nor the stud is a class act, and both are guaranteed to turn off any real sexual chemistry as much as the fašade worn by the neighborhood Miss or Mister Proper, who is so stiff and unyielding that any deep relationship is made impossible.