Here’s a great letter from a reader:
“I just read ‘Orchid Ice Cream’ and have a question. How do you balance the ‘I love sex but I am not a slut’ with a man’s need to be the pursuer and feel like he has won a prize? We all know if it is too easy, he loses interest. And yet, for those of us who love sex as much as any guy, saying “no” can feel like just so much game playing. So how to balance all this, especially if we are reasonably sure he is still having sex with other women as well?” – Dr Judi Bloom
That, Dr Judi, is a fantastic question, because it’s about that ever-elusive ideal: balance. And if the Tao is about anything at all, it is balance: between light and dark, masculine and feminine, high and low, excess and lack, privation and indulgence.
In the Tao of Dating for Women, I offer a simple rule: you should only have sex with a man for the first time when you really want to. The corollary to that is that you shouldn’t not have sex when you really want to have it, either. How to balance the two?
Let’s introduce you to an idea which I’ll call the near side and far side of sexual power. If we assume that the woman is the gatekeeper when it comes to sex, then she can grant or deny access. This is the near side of sexual power.
After a couple has had sex, the woman does not have as much near-side power. However, she can have a different kind of power: the power to be incredibly good in the sack. This is what I call far-side power.
For better or for worse, in most Western countries, most of women’s sexual power has been concentrated in the ability to deny. The standard sexual narrative is something along the lines of “if you go through these Herculean labors and prove yourself worthy, then you may gain access to my platinum-plated goodies, big boy.”
The problem with this, as Dr Judi pointed out, is that women love sex, too. At least as much as men, and often a helluva lot more. So the amount of near-side power she has is directly proportional to the amount of deprivation she imposes upon herself.
This does not sound like a fun party.
There’s a second problem, though, which may be even worse. If a woman’s sexual power derives primarily from her ability to deny, then she’s going to get a lot of practice in the denying, but not the actual sex. And so when the guy actually arrives at the platinum-plated destination, he may find out that the plating is very thin indeed. And the much-anticipated party ends up not being a lot of fun.
But rejoice! There is a solution. It is simple, although it may not be easy. And it is this: get really, really good at sex. Have more far-side power!
Because when you think about it, near-side power is limited by nature. It’s a one-trick pony, to risk a terrible pun. Or to risk an even more terrible pun, it’s like a balloon: one prick, all over.
Whereas far-side power is infinite! There is no upper limit to how good you can be in the sack, how much you can enjoy yourself, and how much your partner can enjoy himself (or herself) with you.
So let’s get back to the original question: how does a woman balance her desire to have sex – perhaps right now, even – with her desire to maintain sexual power in the relationship by not being too easy?
Well, if all you have is near-side power, then that’s you have to work with, sister. Make the guy be the pursuer, the chaser of the skirt, the hunter of the gazelle. Be elusive enough such that you whet but not kill his appetite. Make him earn it!
But if you have far-side power, too, then you have a lot more versatility. That means you can forgo some or all of your near-side power and still have several metric fucktons of power left. Why? Because he’s never experienced such soulful, invigorating, mind-shattering, body-levitating, guilt-free, joyous sex in his whole life before you waltzed into it, that’s why. And he’d have to be a flaming idiot to pass up repeat experiences of that kind.
Actually, it’s even more than that. When a guy has amazing sex with you, addiction circuitry gets strongly activated in his brain. It’s as if he’s on a drug, and that drug is you.
Hey, someone’s gotta put the dope in dopamine. Might as well be you.
So the super-amazingly awesome news for the women is that sexual skill can be acquired. Like piano-playing or plumbing ability, we are not born with it. And it’s relatively easy to get yourself in the top 1% of the population in this domain, because most other women have studiously avoided getting good at it their whole life.
So go forth and get thee educated, girl! And no, that does not mean picking up the latest issue of Cosmo. That stuff is crap. Get an awesome book like Touch Me There by Yvonne Fulbright, or David Deida’s Enlightened Sex Manual, or Nicole Daedone’s Slow Sex. Great books like that give you not just a whole repertoire of techniques but also a healthy and empowered mindset for dealing with masculine-feminine dynamics.
Oh, and a partner to practice with would be useful. Luckily, as a woman, that’s not very difficult. All you have to do is ask. Most men are gracious enough to oblige as a guinea pig for such noble causes. Moreover, there are plenty of skills you can practice that don’t require the presence of a man (eg Kegel exercises to strengthen the pubococcygeus muscle).
Since it is true that a guy can lose interest if it is “too easy” as Judy put it, a point of finesse: you must always leave him wanting more. Make sure he realizes that you’ve left something in reserve, and the next time will be even more mind-blowing. It’s one of the main principles of The Tao of Dating, and one I cannot emphasize enough.
To address the ‘I love sex but I’m not a slut’ issue: one of my teachers told me that you tend to become the thing you avoid being. If you say “I don’t want to be a slut”, you’re still putting energy into the concept of slut. See, sluts are a little bit like Santa Claus: the less you believe in them, the less they exist. So instead, put your attention on what you want. ‘I love sex’ is plenty good enough.
In his supercool (and blissfully short) book Finite and Infinite Games, philosopher James Carse defines a finite game as one in which the goal is to end the game (eg by having one party win). An infinite game is one in which the goal is to keep playing. Nobody needs to lose, ever. The fun can go on.
The game of near-side power is a finite one, whereas that of far-side power is an infinite game. I don’t have to tell you that infinite games are more fun to play and last longer than finite ones – you’ve already figured that out. Right?
You may have also figured out that because of that rude interruption at the end, life itself is a finite game. However, to live it well is to live it as if it’s an infinite game. Hopping from one attempted win to another only makes you miserable in the long run. Why? Because it sucks when you don’t win, and even when you do win, you get that “ok now what?” downer which just sets you up for needing a bigger fix next time. It’s basically a bottomless pit that cannot be filled.
The most satisfying and meaningful aspects of life are those that play like an infinite game: raising children, deep relationships, lifelong learning. My guess is that if you bring that mindset of infinite games to your sex life and play to keep playing, you’ll end up enjoying even more fun and fulfillment.