As I've previously mentioned, I'm currently going through an odyssey that involves a laughable lack of human touch and tender, Instagrammable moments. I'm not blaming anyone. I can fully attest that this rut is all my fault. However, while I've gone out on dates with some real doozies (one guy wanted to spend the whole time talking about how he "ate just like a little bird"), I'm far past the point of just planting myself down on any ol' dong.
But do I have the luxury of being so particular? My libido really wants an answer.
To gain some perspective, I called upon porn marvel James Deen (link obviously NSFW). Anyone who's watched Deen perform will know the man has a unique ability to create an almost palpable chemistry with anyone he inserts himself into—including those who wouldn't exactly be described as charismatic (read: Backdoor Teen Mom). I get that he's a performer, but there's still something about the spark he emits that's completely awe-inspiring. I felt like he could teach me something about connection.
If we can apparently fall in love with anyone by asking 36 questions, can something similar be done with boning, particularly when it feels like love is unattainable? I hold Deen in high regard. I assumed he would have the answer(s).
Take the Time to Talk and Listen
He doesn't have answers. Deen is clear about that off the top. I'm quickly relieved, however, when he tells me he also doesn't have heightened powers to make himself attracted to someone he's not attracted to.
He does, however, acknowledge the importance of communication. Deen always makes a point of talking to his partners to understand their intentions in order to get him to their level.
"Sometimes when I'm having sex with people, their desires and motivations to have sex is a physical thing, or an emotional thing, or just a fun thing," he says. "It's just about working with that person and then doing things together. But there's no trick that's going to work every time, with everyone."
There have been a handful of times he's worked with a performer whom he didn't connect with—usually as a result of a delusion-based attitude problem—which will result in a scene where they're "physically engaged in the act of sex and nothing more, and it's disconnected."
He likens it to the differences between shooting softcore versus hardcore. "Sometimes the feeling isn't there. But it's what you bring to it that you'll get out."
My takeaway: Usually, I have zero expectations and, in turn, little enthusiasm going into the majority of dates, by way of Tinder. I bring the same energy as I would if I were meeting a stranger whom a friend from out of town wanted me to connect with—a standard, arm's-length level of friendliness. I leave the real warmth at home with my dog.
If I realize we don't have much to work with, I tend to shut down pretty quickly, relying on the most basic pleasantries and niceties to get me through our (generally) short time together. I certainly don't bring depth to the table. That distant chilliness is my strongest defense mechanism; it's what makes it clear that I'm not interested.
It's unquestionable that I should try to absorb Deen's open-hearted approach of emotional leveling. It's all about doing my best at connecting with anything regardless of if I sense something meaningful. It's all about just being human together.
Learn to Be Sympathetic
When it comes to getting intimate with someone who, let's say, doesn't have the greatest hygiene, Deen does his best not to let judgment rule the day. Again, it has to do with communication and understanding.
"It's not the thing I judge, but the motivation behind it," he says. "It's like, 'Oh, you don't brush your teeth because you're a slob' versus, 'Oh, you don't brush your teeth because you have a horrible mouth issue that you're getting taken care of next week and you can't physically brush your teeth,' then that makes sense. I'm happy you're taking care of yourself and I'm sympathetic."
My takeaway: Again, I can learn from Deen's sympathy and work on curbing my instinct to be put off by so many guys. I am guilty of shutting down a date in 20 minutes because he was a yellow-fingered chain-smoker (luckily, we met for a walk in my neighborhood) and completely wrote off a nice enough fellow (albeit not professionally established enough for my taste) whose giant stye was the only thing I could focus on.
That's not to say it was these specific imperfections that were the deal breaker—it's just that they didn't help entice me further. Again, I will learn to take a page from Deen's book on sympathy, and listen more actively. That way, there's a greater chance to connect in another way, even if it's not romantic. There's no harm in that.
Just Live, Dude, Even if Boning Isn't a Big Part of It
Even the guy whose artistic practice involves having sex with different women every single day can acknowledge that life is a constant challenge that will never stop throwing you more constant challenges.
"People grow up and get misanthropic and get down that life is tough, you have to do shit. When shit gets harder, it affects your life," he says. "So something as simple as wanting to go out and find someone to touch your genitals and to touch their genitals becomes a process. It's not as simple as going, 'Oh, I like them, they're pretty, let's go fuck.' The older you get, the more of life you get to experience and the more you experience, the harder shit gets. Life is tough."
Still, I wouldn't hesitate to label Deen as "posicore," in that he brings a Care Bear Stare to anything you throw his way. Even your all-consuming problems he doesn't have the concise answers you're desperately searching for.
"The fact that you're dealing with this not getting laid means you're living, you're living life. Embrace life and let shit just come naturally," Deen says. "Sex is important, but it's not the end-all and be-all of life. The fact that we're able to have big enough brains to enjoy it is pretty fucking interesting."
My takeaway: OK, imagine the sound of air being released from a tightly filled helium balloon. That's about the level of relief I feel when Deen—he who is famous for fucking regularly and vigorously for a living—assures me that sex isn't the most important thing.
While I do have the tendency to regularly get consumed (and panicked) with the thought of where I'm going to meet someone I get with, I can function on a manageable level when I just accept where I am. Until things shift, I take comfort in the words and captivating moving images that Deen, his open heart and remarkable erect penis, put out into this world.
Follow Elianna Lev on Twitter.