I had a bit of a random epiphany the other day, but before I share it I should point out that if you know me and don't want to know anything about my sex life (or if you don't know me and don't want to know anything about my sex life), then stop reading.
Seriously, stop now.
Okay, here it is - Cosmo knows nothing about me, or Mr Manley.
I know. Stunning in its simplicity.
I was in a waiting room and had a choice between Cosmo or a Xbox. Since I don't have an Xbox, I felt the choice had been made for me, although I would have preferred a gardening magazine or New Scientist or Private Eye to be honest.
So, I opened it up and after flicking through the ads to get to the index, I continued flipping pages to get to the 'what your man REALLY wants in bed' article. Turns out, he wants endless blowjobs from a coy yet occasionally dominating woman who wears size ten clothes and fancy high heels. He wants to be propositioned every time he turns around, to enact at least three positions from the karma sutra every sex session, and to be lovingly gazed (up) at during aforementioned blowjobs.
But Mr Manley insists that (most of) these are inaccurate, in his case at least, and it got me thinking about how easily we buy into all this - I say we, I guess really I'm thinking of the kind of deeply insecure teenager that I was. Yes, woman deserve the vote, and have the right to be educated and employed and all the rest of it, but still these magazines - voraciously devoured by many such teenagers - contain so many articles devoted to what HE wants in bed, how we ought to cut our hair, do our make up, dress... How about what WE want in bed? And how about taking it in turns, figuring out what works for you and the person you're with? I don't mean literally turns (though I can see that might work) I just mean going with what feels good rather than focusing on how many blow jobs you've given this week?
The magazine writers deal in idealised relationships, where neither of you are ever busy, or tired, or in a strop with the other, or just not in the mood. Mr Manley and I have (after just under fifteen years together) fallen into a pattern, of sorts. We have times when we are all over one another, doing the deed six times in a week, and times when we go for two or three weeks without so much as a fumble under the sheets. Usually it's something in between. As for what we do - well, that's a mixture to, as I suspect it is for most couples, if they're honest about it. And the list of what he REALLY wants in bed turns out to be stunningly inaccurate, in our case - just as well, as I'm not a size ten, I own not a single pair of high heels (sorry) and giving blowjobs is not my favourite way to pass the time (not sorry).
It's not about what people chose to do - it's about the expectations that these types of articles set up in young people - women AND men, of every sexual persuasion. How much of what we do in bed is what we actually want to do and enjoy, and how much is what we've been told he or she wants us to do, and what we think we 'ought to' like?
So that was my epiphany - that Cosmo knows nothing about me or Mr Manley, and what nine out of ten men are thinking has absolutely no relevance to any aspect of my life whatsoever, or his.
What matters is what works for us.
And although I recognised that on an intellectual level a long time ago, I'm more than a little shocked that it's taken this long for me to really feel it, to really know it.
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