How fixing a muffler is not the same as an early morning romp.

The first year on my own after leaving my marriage, I managed to get through enough awkward casual sexual encounters to feel like I knew what I was doing again. It was odd though because I was so much more mature as an adult but I still found myself a bit overwhelmed trying to create an authentic connection. When that happened, a performance anxiety would come up and I’d go back to a conventional adolescent lovemaking style that relied on the objectification of women to get sexually turned-on.

It took a while to realize the underlying mechanism in play. I would look at women at being the OBJECT that turned me on and then get confused when she wasn’t SEXY ENOUGH. What I discovered was I had all kinds of shame in claiming MY RIGHT to feel sexy and be turned on from my own erotic reasons. As I struggled with this realization, trying to find my own erotic response would get worse knowing a focus on performance contains within it the fear of being judged as to how good the performance was, and therefore, the fear of failing at it.

During this awkward time I met a woman from Seattle named Ingrid. I ended up in the same group with her at a conference on building healthy relationship skills. She seemed just as mature intellectually but I could also sense a maturity in how she carried herself, a certain embodied way of moving. Luck had it there was a little diner next to the conference center where it was easy to find myself sitting at a table sharing stories with her. I had an attraction to her right away, lilty, funny for sure but a certain intensity to her. She definitely had an opinion about the way she saw things. That turned me on even more.

After a few weeks went by of emailing and phone conversations she invited me up to her place in Seattle. I was exceptionally enthralled with Ingrid by then but deeply respectful of the caliber of woman she was. Imagining what I was about to walk into I contacted my therapist friend, the same one who after leaving my wife coached me to knock on my own front door when I returned. I asked her how to handle myself as a woman invites me into her most private space. How do I move confidently into her bedroom but at the same time respect her. My friend thought about that for a minute and said, “If you find yourself in her bedroom make sure and ask permission before you climb in her bed.“

After being out all afternoon Ingrid and I ended up in her little front parlor. The conversation seemed to tail off pretty quickly where she said, “Let’s go in my room.“ Ingrid then tilted her head to motion for me to follow her. When she opened the door I peered into the most gorgeous yet classic feminine bedroom I’d ever seen; soft gassy curtains, a huge tapestry that went up the wall behind her headboard that looped out over the bed forming a sort of canopy, candles over every horizontal surface and with fuzzy throw rugs on each side of the bed to insulate against the cold hardwood floors.

To my surprise she calmly just started taking her clothes off and neatly folding them on her night stand. The way the evening light fell on her soft skin, the ease and fluid motion of her body had me totally hypnotized. As you can imagine, I had my clothes off pretty quickly then lingered there watching her. Had I not been coached ahead of time I may have inadvertently jumped up into her bed and smiled back at her like “Isn’t this awesome“.

Seriously though, it was so perfect to be standing quietly then ask her if I could enter her bed, to have her smile so wide and gesture to do so, then to climb up and pull the sheet aside for her to slide onto my waiting arms, wheeeew, what a moment.

In my few encounters with embodied women I learned they like to play for hours in a liminal erotic space. I remember telling a buddy of mine once about a sexual encounter that lasted three hours. He looked at me with a deep puzzled face and said, “What could you possibly do for THREE hours?”

In the middle of my first encounter with Ingrid I inadvertently drifted off in my head for a bit where she asked me, “Where did you go?” She could sense I wasn’t all there with her and called me back to being present by saying, “I can’t feel you.” She invited me to return to my body and stay in the moment with her. To not take that as a challenge in the middle of my focus on the tactile surface sensation of penis-in-vagina, took a bit of courage. As I slowed down and paid more attention, my ability to connect became part of a larger expression that included the desire and awareness of both parties: a conversation not a monologue.

The last time I went to see Ingred in Seattle I flew. She picked me up at the airport in her little mini-pickup. It had a throaty exhaust leak that bugged the crap out of me. That afternoon I dropped her at work so I had it for the whole afternoon. When I returned to her apartment, I crawled under it, and found the exhaust leak to be a hole right in the side of the muffler. I went to the hardware store, bought a piece of sheet aluminum and a few hose clamps, installed it all and the noise was gone.

Funny enough, on the way back from the airport she’d been complaining about how all the guys she tried to date in Seattle were too fixated on collaboration always needing her opinion on the most mundane things. She lamented, “Why can’t guys just make a fucking decision on their own and take up some space?” That night, when I told her I fixed her exhaust leak, she said “That’s amazing, do guys just do that?”

I replied enthusiastically, “I don’t know what kind of guys you’ve been hanging out with, but where I’m from, its normal boyfriend behavior.” She squinted at me and wandered off.

The next morning, we had to catch my early morning flight. The alarm went off. She reached over to kill it, then slid her hand down my leg then grabbed my cock, which happened to be still half-hard from sleeping. She threw the covers back, and went down on me to get it nice and ready. Then she climbed up and wiggled her pussy down on it. She leaned forward, looked me straight in the eyes and began lifting and rolling her hips in a decisive “milking me” motion before she pounded up and down a few times with a meaty slapping sound. It was only a minute or two before she stopped, casually climbed off and chirped, “Come on, we have to get going.”

“What the FUCK was THAAAT?” I demanded.

“I don’t know what kind of women you’ve been hanging out with,” she joked, “but for me, that’s normal girlfriend behavior.”

That was the last time I saw Ingrid before her life took a detour, she moved back to the east coast and we drifted out of contact, but the feeling of being with her stuck with me. She modeled a new approach to connection, something was coming alive in me, a new path forward. No longer did I enter into a sexual encounter from a big energy, make-out-grope-a-thon. Instead, I brought with me the intention of connecting from a quiet foundation of consent: to just “be there” in a way that felt collaborative. This quiet peace created a more intimate platform to ramp our sexuality from. I was amazed at how passionate and animistic the love-making could become having begun so quietly.

I believe the goal in intimacy is to work toward a place where each person trusts the other enough to relax all their defenses. In the middle of a state of acceptance comes the courage to rebel against our own shame in a container that is safe.

The awkward part was in this new co-creational way of connecting with women, I found myself in a no-man’s land between an objectification-driven sex drive and a growing capacity for a true heart-felt collaboration. In other words, I watched myself letting go of my egoic attachment to how I thought sex “should be”. I learned to shut up, slow waaaaay down, and be radically present to what we were creating together. As a result, I let go of the need to use sexual performance to mask my fear. By opening myself to being seen, even in my vulnerability, I replaced the fear of the unknown with a dedication to creating authentic connection. In a nut-shell, I unplugged my cock from ego and plugged it into my heart.

During this unplugging-my-cock-from-my-head “rewiring process”, there were times I lost track of where my erection went. It was terrifying at times but I would just give my erection permission to show up if it wanted to. I took the time to explain to the women I was with that I was moving though a new approach to sexual connection where I was claiming my own right to feel sexy without looking to her to turn me on. I wanted my partner to understand that no matter what state my cock was in, it was never tied to my feelings of desire for her.

The reason this process was so pivotal for me was because my sexual enjoyment went from a tepid “job to do” to an improvisational, joy-filled, sexy full-tilt rock opera. The second thing that blew me away was that as I created an invitation for the woman I was with, not to turn me on but to bring her whole creative expression to bear, including her vulnerability, what she shared was far more sophisticated and fun than I ever could have imagined.

Chris Hoffmann —

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