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Is Monogamy a Monotony?


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Is a long marriage a drag? Is sex within that marriage inevitably going to become stale and insipid after a few decades? Will you get to know each other so well that nothing is ever surprising anymore? Ever a real turn on?

And more to the point did I ask myself these questions when I met the man I went on to marry when I was just eighteen years old? No, of course not. But now, years later and planning our silver wedding anniversary I find myself pondering on thirty years of monogamy (yep, I was faithful from the day we met) and what it’s meant and still means to me.

When we married I knew I only wanted him. He was the love of my life but damn, I was so young, we were so young to make the commitment of forever.

But divorce was always an option, wasn’t it?

No. I never looked at it like that, I’m not so sure about him, but he’s still here, at my side, so that says something.

Of course there have been other men over the years whose physique and personalities have harnessed my attention. And I’m pretty sure they had a twinkle in their eye for me, but I’ve never dreamed of doing anything about it. I clicked on my not interested vibe to deter them because I was happy with my guy—more than happy, he made me feel safe and secure and loved in every aspect of life.

Every aspect I hear you ask? Even in the bedroom after all that time, only him…ever?

Like well-choreographed dancers we perfected our routine over the years. I don’t think either of us really thought about only ever having sex with each other (though of course there are no crystal balls predicting the future here) but that’s the way it’s turned out. I know we said those commitment vows, forsake all others, in front of God, family and friends, and meant what we said, but the reality is… so damn real.

Several years ago, after completing a creative writing course at Cardiff University, I had a career change and became a published author of erotic romance. He loves this new side to my life much more than I expected him to. He doesn’t read much of my work, he’s more of a thriller/war/history type of bloke, but that doesn’t mean he won’t help with a bit of research when it comes to my latest novel.

We’ve always been close, in tune, (though as with any marriage our closeness has ebbed and flowed like a gentle tide depending on what else has been going on in our lives) but my new career definitely brought us together with a new intensity. In my twenties I wouldn’t have had the confidence to discuss BDSM with him in any detail (or with any knowledge), now those cards are on the table. I find myself saying and doing what I want without the inhibitions of my younger years. It swings both ways and with me being more open, so is he.

I like to think we’re still in pretty good shape (he does triathlons and I horse ride most days) and still desire each other physically. But what I couldn’t have predicted is that now, in our forties, it’s our minds that are the biggest turn on and my writing has definitely enhanced that. It doesn’t have to be mega kinky stuff that thrills us, or unpredictability, it’s unity, history and a future. It’s the confidence in knowing that whatever is said, whatever happens, will be received respectfully and with understanding. Did I mention we laugh, a lot.

My sex record would have been very different if I’d met him ten years later. I’d likely have a bedpost full of notches and a string of wild stories. As it happens, there’s just one notch, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my fair share of wild stories. A few weeks ago we went past a London restaurant and he said ‘I took you there on our fourth date’. I remembered it, the food had been lovely, what I’d forgotten was what he said next, ‘you told me in the middle of the main course that you weren’t wearing knickers’. I laughed as the memory flooded back. That’s our history together and we keep on making memories.

I believe marriage is like a beautiful high-walled garden—old bricks, tumbling ivy, some manicured sections around a gentle fountain and a lawn with a bench, an ancient oak tree for shelter—and only the couple have the key to enter this garden. Within those walls what happens is secret and sacred. It’s a place for celebration and love, comfort and support. It’s also a safe environment to be vulnerable, to grow and nurture one another’s sexuality whether it’s your wedding night, or the eve of your silver, golden, ruby or diamond anniversary. Contented couples have one thing in common, and that’s the ability to never stop learning about what makes their spouse happy, whatever adventure they’re undertaking, in or out of the bedroom.

Stroking Naked Men


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I started stroking naked men for money in 2007. It feels light years ago. Not so much in linear distance, but more in the sense of understanding from this nine years later perspective, what it was I was doing. Back then it was simply a call to heart that sang out clear and true, even as it challenged the heck out of my mind.

I’d come out of a period of extreme grief. As that first ravaged year turned, I needed a project. I was interested in men, having spent most of my adult life identifying as lesbian. I didn’t want a relationship in the orthodox sense of it, but oh, how I wanted relationship. Stroking Naked Men was born from this place. There I stood. A middle aged, professional woman, with a strangely compelling idea.

I fretted for a bit. I worried about what other people would think and whether the ‘psychotherapy police’ would get me. I tried to talk myself out of it for good and logical reasons. Dear Reader, I had to do it. In the end it was simple. It was one of those things that must be done, even if they don’t wholly make sense.

I bought a second phone and distilled an invitation into a twenty-word classified ad. I told myself I would stop the moment anything felt off key. I hung out my shingle and started work.

This is what I knew. I wanted to create and offer intimacy within a structure. To use what I’d learned over two decades as a therapist about how to hold space and attention. I wanted to touch rather than handle people, and lovingly offer pleasure rather than mechanistically get them off.

Men started rolling in. I learned how to use the telephone as a portal and to pick up the attitude underneath the words. I said ‘no’ a lot. I was weeding out anger and contempt, and the colour palate of misogyny. I could hear it crouched and hiding in the most charming and articulate, as palpably as its more obvious counterpart. The men who ask ‘how much to come on your face’ as soon as I pick up the phone.

This is how it goes with my naked men: a phone call leading to an appointment. Leading to a man on my doorstep at a designated time. Leading to him being invited in, being welcomed and settled. I take a little time to say ‘hello’ to let him take me in and to breathe him in too. I check if there’s anything he’d like to ask or say before I get him unwrapped and up on the table. Over and over again, over these years, I’ve stood in this beginning moment with many men. It always pulses with vulnerability. Always. And I’ve come to appreciate the beauty of that vulnerability. It takes courage for men to walk into erotic tenderness, and it’s a different kind of courage than that required for combat.

In my book, there’s getting undressed and then there’s being naked. They are quite different things. I like the naked place. My erotic work is situated in that mysterious landscape. It’s simple. I show up. I welcome you. I am in service to your session.

I have pleasured and loved a lot of men since I began this chapter of my life. More men than most women have through their hands in a lifetime. I now know my brothers in a way I can’t imagine getting to in any other manner. Gratitude is a drumbeat in my blood. My thank you is a prayer.

I am generous by nature and it’s easy to be this, within the structure and form I created. I love this work. I am in my best self when I do it. I have witnessed and held so much embodied, naked soul, in these sessions. I have been touched over and over, not by complicated stuff, but by the simplest of human stuff. Seeing so many men, in the beauty and vulnerability of orgasm has blown a place in my heart right open. Maybe, it’s because I am there in this very particular, devotional way and it’s a ritual, and because he is so exposed rather than buried deeply inside the woman, that it has such Grace. I take the holding and the showing up, very seriously. I’m there in service. It is for him. It is all for him. And, I don’t mean by that, that I’m cut off or absent. It’s the opposite. I am so utterly, absolutely there. I am with him. With me too, or it wouldn’t work.

I suspect that my naked men like, value and even love me, because I can give such an ‘it’s all for you’ experience, without disappearing and making it mechanistic and empty. I’m right there, so it’s intimate and real. And yet, I don’t need to be attended to or gratified. In fact, I’ve come to understand that this is my very favorite sexual position. I reckon it’s my unique selling point. Authentic devotion. That’s all.

I seem to be tailing off my naked business these days. I am more word of mouth than out there in the shop window of sexual services. I’m writing more and baking more. And when I am called to the massage table, I step up there smiling.

I am full of my naked men. I have been told many secrets, shown wounds, battle scars, triumphs and a world full of libidinal joy. I have learned a lot of things about men and about myself. My men have been generous, and even if they didn’t know they were helping me, they have.

I am now quite sure it’s nakedness that turns me on, rather than just the stripping off of clothes. So, vulnerability is sexy. Radical or what? Recently, a rather anxious man got preoccupied with what was it I was doing to him? I wasn’t ‘doing’ to him as much as I was meeting him. I believe that every one of us, each in our own way, longs for that. I knew that when I started this project, but I didn’t know it in the beat of my heart, in the breath of me, the way I know it now.

I have been asked more than a few times, in the heat of a moment: ‘do you like cock?’

‘I like cock’, I say back.’If it’s attached to a man I can like.’

I have to like my naked men, in order to accompany them, to uncover and discover them, to hold not only their cock, but also their heart, in my hands. In a nutshell, I can tell you, I have liked a lot of men. I consider this a blessing.

You can find Caroline at her website: Carolina Cooks for You

And her musings about depression: www.postcardsfromthewindowledge.com

Why I’ve Always Loved Younger Men


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Why I’ve always loved younger men….

Younger men… now there’s a damning phrase if you are an older woman. Branded as cougar, cradle-snatcher, why is it that all those rather unpleasant epithets never get showered on men who prefer ‘a younger model’?

I’ve always been open about my preference, recognising it’s fundamentally part of who I am, rather then just a midlife need for a good fuck… (Although of course that never goes amiss.)

So grab a coffee, and enjoy…

Clear as day I remember standing in the Sussex kitchen of my mother’s best friend. The three of us. Exasperation at me was written all over my mother’s face. I was 16, so most would find this unsurprising. But this emotion had been on her face whenever she looked at me for most of my life. Nothing new there.

The discussion turned to boyfriends – a delicious wayward boxing half-blue, history student at Cambridge was my current choice. Older – yes, a little, more experienced – quite definitely. My mother and friend both knew how much I was enjoying it, him.

But the comments that followed changed my perspective forever. The world went quiet. My heart stopped. The seismic plates shifted. No-one else noticed – but me.

‘Hmm the thing about Erica is she needs a strong person. To control her. To ensure she doesn’t do anything stupid. Someone much older. A real man who can tell her what to do. How life is.’

Throw-away comments maybe. As if I wasn’t in the room. But those few words resonated into my future. I absolutely knew I never wanted an older man, a father figure, someone who knew best. Those words still make my heart go cold.

What I wanted, had probably always wanted, was a playmate, a partner in crime, a lover who was up for exploration, someone as wild-minded, intense like me. Who loved passionately. I wanted someone to ‘see’ me. And this man was always going to be my age or younger. From the get-go. A sort of sexy Peter Pan, combined with Jack Sparrow. Insouciant. Fresh-faced. Smiling. Light of body, mind, heart.

Life went on. I married a man my own age. I loved him passionately. We had happy times and lots of children, but his childhood damage claimed him. So there I was back in the world of dating again. Time to imagine next steps. And it was never ever about someone older.

After licking my wounds, eight years ago I threw myself back into the maelstrom that is internet dating. Curious and worried.

I was facing 50 – with all the uncertainties of the menopause ahead, of being ‘past it’, of thinking life was on a downward spiral from here on. To my surprise – I was thrown a lifeline from a really unexpected quarter. Those younger men who had always featured in my mind’s eye came up trumps. To them I was catnip. I was a person to be courted, fantasised about, enjoyed and spoiled. They wanted to engage with me, just as I had always wanted to engage with them.

The reasons to enjoy them are many and varied…So here’s my list – once sampled you can add your own…

• Younger men understand personal grooming really well.
And if you don’t believe me – compare younger men’s profiles to those in their 60s and 70s on any dating site. If you did the same comparison for older/younger women, the difference is much less stark.

• Yoga is something they’ve tried and probably do.
Supple bendy men are wonderful lovers. Health/wellbeing is part of who they are. Most of the younger men I have dated have done yoga… Older men? Nada.

• Your/their gene pool really is irrelevant.
You may have children already, or be past those years… Yeay, they are happy not to have to factor that into any dating equation. Not so with women closer to them in age.

• If you are lucky, you have your own space, so are not looking to them to provide a roof over your head. What they earn and whether it can support a mortgage/rent is therefore not important. Nor is a pension for that matter – you’re more sorted anyway.

• You know what you’re doing in bed and boy, is it fun exploring all sorts of new stuff… Toys, apps, you name it.

• They love the fact that you are older…

Be prepared to have the whole world feel they can make personal comments about you/your relationship/their prejudices about the inappropriateness of older woman/younger man together with impunity…

I dated a very beautiful 6’3” triathlete – eye-candy of the highest order. If I went to the loo in a bar, girls young enough to be my daughters would feel they could express jealousy/horror and everything in between. Until you explained that they, when older, could be doing just the same. Hah! That put it in perspective in a way they’d never anticipated.

He too was asked what it was like ‘shagging his mother’… Not expecting the ‘best sex ever’ reply his laddish inquisitors got. But what amazed him was how many men wanted to talk about it more, and more, and more. And then would ask us about it together.

It would seem that there is a need for ‘fact site for dating older women’ somewhere.

• Those younger men are up for adventure – big time.
Whereas an older guy doesn’t get why you want to have sex in as many car-parks as you can round London to see where the CCTV cameras can’t reach, my playmate at the time thought it was a crazy, fun-filled way to spend odd weekday evenings. We saw parts of London I never knew existed, in ways I hadn’t anticipated!

Windsurfing and sex – tick, kayaking and sex – tick, sleeping outside in all weathers and sex – tick.

• Yes I did have my fair share of sexual problems to deal with… premature ejaculation, lack of erection, etc. Sometimes I wondered if I’d become the sexual therapist some of these men needed, but being able to talk about it to me was an unanticipated bonus – for them.

• They get why the roof off the car, loud music at 2am on a frosty night is the only way to get home from a party.

• Importantly – I love younger people…
Most of my company’s clients are in their 20s, 30s, early 40s – I’m mixing with them on a daily basis, building their companies with them, understanding the issues they face. I talk their talk, walk their walk. And some of them are hot as hell. Although clients are a definite ‘no, no’, it’s not rocket science these are the types of men I engage with emotionally, or physically. And I’m not interested in retiring (well, other than to a well-appointed bed with some delightful company). There are too many things to do, people to see, places to go… I find the ‘slippers/pipe’ mentality in older men unbelievably dispiriting. Please no, don’t unhook me from the mainstream.

• Younger men don’t get M&S, or the National Trust
This may sound a little odd. But next time you’re in M&S – look around you. No-one hot and tasty in there, is there? No, see my point. So I run in, buy Rosie HW’s silk bras and dash out again, a little worried I might have been seen by my latest squeeze. Who just so happens to love removing said silk 
bras, cami-knickers and cashmere sweaters that M&S does so well, priced so reasonably. And what hot date has ever asked you to go round a NT property – unless of course they were the tree-surgeon?

• Younger men appreciate the menopause could be a good thing…
My breasts are having a great mid-life career at the moment. Post-menopause they are getting bigger and bigger (and I was never poorly endowed). Whilst the rest of my body is fit, lithe, responding to exercise, healthy diet and yoga, my breasts have decided they are having none of that. They are big, beautiful and objects of wonder to my lovers. Older men have that sort of ‘seen it all before’ ennui.

And of course – pregnancy is no longer an issue. Condoms are for sexual health, not contraception. Ah, pregnancy.

Therein lies the rub when you are in the wonderful world of dating younger men. Because many of them will make fabulous fathers. If they are not already.

My deal with younger men has always been that when they meet the girl they want to be the mother of their children, be honest, say so. Because it can’t be me. Be truthful. They know I’ve loved being the mother of 4 – how on earth could I ever hold them, keep them from experiencing this too. So sometimes even though your heart is aching because you love them, you have to let them go to someone closer to them in age.

• You stay under their skin, in their souls…

So despite the sad point above, bear in mind one key thing. Told to me by a male friend I’ve known since I was in my late teens… If you have enjoyed loving and being loved by a man very much younger than you, he will never ever forget you. You will always be part of his life, who he is, how he loves. And if things go wrong, as sadly they do – it is you that will be on the speed-dial once the worst has happened. Because he knows you have years of life to call on to help him through. Not wisdom. Just years’ of life practice.

Go out and enjoy the smorgasbord younger men can offer. And you know one of the really great things about getting older? There are even more younger men next year than this year! Enjoy.

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