I often hear from women that, “men can compartmentalize” better than women. So, women should be wary of going into a friends with benefits relationship because they will likely “fall for him” and “get attached”. Women advise each other, make sure you “protect your heart”.
The implication about men is that they just don’t have feelings for certain women even if they have sex with them; or that they choose not to have those feelings. The implication about women is that they can't control what feelings they have and they will fall in love with most men they have sex with and then that will hurt them so much it's not worth the sex.
All of this is absolutely false.
The fact that people believe these things makes me really sad because both women and men are missing out on the possibility of some really fun and sexy times. They are missing out on an opportunity to connect with another human—missing out on learning how another person experiences the world; missing out on the chance (well actually the responsibility) to practice empathy and respect and honesty. And missing out on all those lovely chemical cascades that come with sex and affection; that revitalize our bodies and make us laugh and shiver and sigh and sleep so sweetly.
Neither men nor women are processing feelings healthily and are both missing out.
Men, in the scenario described, are blocking their emotions. The emotions are there, they are just stuck. And women, in this scenario, are allowing their emotions to dominate them.
We can learn something from each other. Fancy that! I find that the best way to learn from others is honest, intimate, nonjudgmental conversation. And I can think of one great place to do that.....
Sex is not just sex, women are right. Sex does bring up feelings, that's the point of it! It gives us physical feelings and emotional feelings.
We just have to become adept at processing these feelings in a way that enhances our spiritual growth and happiness. It's just as unhealthy to squash the emotions down as it is to let them spray all over the place. It's unhealthy for us and its unfair to the other.
Sex is not a promise of any future behavior, men are right. Sex happens in the moment, not the past or the future.
We have to become adept at expanding the present moment and are really, truly present for our sexual partner, sex gets better and more satisfying. Suddenly, we find that afterward, we are not yearning for something more—more affection, more love, more attention. If we are truly present, all of that is exactly what we get.
My next book, The Art of Romance, will be available in July. Let me know if you'd like to be on the early reader team.