A goodly amount of our focus of the Romance and Erotica genres has been on why we seem to like certain aspects. We’ve talked about the thrill, the enjoyment, the escape of the genre, specifically on the Erotica side of things. While for romance, we’ve talked about the lure of the forbidden, and the need for characters to be flawed in order to appeal to or own need to be loved for who we are.
And just in those two sentences, I think I can see a pretty big difference between erotica and romance.
Erotica seems to be much more about the enjoyment factor. It’s not meant to be a replacement, per se, where we can recognize ourselves in the characters we’re reading. We may or may not be meant to identify with the characters of erotica. We’re just supposed to enjoy the fantasy of what they’re experiencing. Maybe it’s a fetish that your lover isn’t into, and so you need to read about it to experience it. Or maybe, like Clare pointed out, you need a little more excitement in your life, so it’s a valid way to escape the doldrums of your reality. Whatever the reason, erotica is solely for exciting you.
Romance is more about the relationships; August MacGregor pointed that out to us. He’s in a unique place to discuss it because apparently he writes both! His comment on the building of emotional connections obviously resonated with me because of my situation with the Bartender and some inherent differences our relationship has from all of my previous relationships.
Most people don’t approve of my relationship with the Bartender. Thus, I find myself defending it a lot.
The people who disapprove use a lot of the same reasoning why I shouldn’t settle for my situation with him as why they didn’t think the Boy was right for me, and yet, the situations are so very different.
With the Boy, people would tell me that if he was really interested in me, he’d show it. I wouldn’t have to be the one setting up dates, or trying to initiate intimate encounters. They were trying to help me to recognize the social cues that denote interest, and yet it was hard for me to see them because the Boy would say one thing, yet his actions didn’t match.
Thus people would always use that “actions speak louder than words” saying. It didn’t matter that he was saying he wanted me in his life, what mattered was that he was still making me do all the work to have any sort of relationship, friendly or otherwise.
They say the same about the Bartender, and yet HE does show it! His actions show me that I’m important. He calls me to say good night every night. He texts me good morning. He tells me how wonderful and amazing, and what a benefit I am to his life, and how happy I make him, and how he hopes that I am as happy as he is.
It’s not perfect because he still has baggage, such as a wife several states away that he only sees once a month, that he kind of flip flops about actually divorcing. Which is why I don’t put all my stock in this relationship, though emotionally I want to.
People keep telling me that I’m settling for this situation because he’s not completely free, and therefor, he won’t be completely mine. They point out that I might be waiting forever and he’ll never be completely mine. They point out how wrong it is that he went looking while he was still technically attached…
But his story is very complicated.
And he’s hardly the first man who has stepped out on his wife. At least he was honest about the situation, unlike the Married Guy who told me I was “too smart for my own good” when I figured it out. Or there was a time when I had 2 married guys competing for my attention at the same time, along with a guy who thought he was a player. It was an interesting time for me, after a 4 year dry spell where no one had so much as asked me out on a date, and then suddenly all these people, none of which wanted to actually keep me, were suddenly trying to get and keep my attention…
Plus, as the Bartender points out to me regularly, he didn’t expect to develop feelings for me at all, let alone as quickly as he did. He and I are totally honest with each other about how we feel and about what’s going on in our lives. That is new for me.
People forget how often I have actually settled in the past. With the Boy, I settled for being whatever it was that he saw me as. I was the stand in for what he really wanted, on several occasions, and yet, I held onto a feeling that I had with him very briefly. I allowed him to keep secrets and half truths in order to not make him feel uncomfortable with us, and that led to me being mistaken about what was going on with us. I settled for being the leftovers, not just as his lover but as his friend, because of a sincere belief that a fleeting sensation we’d had meant something.
Well, and if we’re honest, because that man threw pheromones around like nobody’s business! The very smell of him would make me melt! Basically, he smells like the Old Spice man looks…
It enticed me. And all the men before him, as few and far between as they were, they all offered me a temporary situation, but if I became too interested too soon, they would go running, screaming into the underbrush. Some of which would keep me around because (like the French guy on Tinder the other day) they find me sexually irresistible, but they don’t want anything with substance.
And that has been the majority of the men I’ve dated since my heart went all wonky nearly 14 years ago. It’s been 14 years since a man has shown any legitimate interest in me.
Let that sink in for a moment. Four. Teen. Years…
Fourteen years of the only men showing me any interest were married or only looking for a temporary hookup. Fourteen years of being treated like I was an option. Of being told I was sexy, but not pretty. Or sometimes that I am fun to talk to, but not attractive.
Fourteen years of men either wanting me for sex, or telling me that I’m not even good enough for that.
Meanwhile, the women in my life keep telling me not to settle, and telling me that there’s a guy out there for me… somewhere. Or, as happened once, telling me that I’m being too picky, and I don’t really have a right to be so picky.
Which, if anyone remembers, I did have a real problem with Mr. Nice Guy’s ears being too small… So, yes I am very picky, but I went out with him anyway, so I am not TOO picky!
In trying to decide what I was going to write today, as there’s a bit of a lull in my guest posts all of a sudden (always feast or famine, am I right?), I came across two posts on different sites that spoke to me.
The first one was from Thought Catalog, which occasionally has stuff that’s relevant to my life, but is mostly geared towards the 20-somethings. It amuses me to read, sometimes, because they are still so young seeming, with their emphasis on whether or not your man holds your hand in public, or how to get over the love of your life at the ripe old age of 22.
Honey, let me tell you, it doesn’t get any easier at nearly 35…
The post in question was about what 13 guys (yes, 20-somethings) do when their significant other is away. That whole, when the cat is away, the mice will play sort of thing. I was shocked to see that several of them, knowing it would be posted in print with their names, were willing to admit to infidelity. With the exception of the guy who’s wife/girlfriend was bisexual and they had a mutual agreement of negotiated infidelity, the rest were openly admitting to cheating on their girlfriend or spouse! And several of them were referring to that woman as a nag, or bothersome…
And this is what I’m supposed to be holding out for?
I’m supposed to give up on the man who has been totally honest about his situation with me, the man who acknowledges his feelings for me, even though he feels guilty for having them when he can’t be mine the way he’d like to (until he decides to make a change, that’s where he’s at emotionally). I’m supposed to give up on the guy who calls me Angel, and tells me I’m beautiful even when I have no makeup and haven’t shaved my legs in days. I’m supposed to give up on the guy who tells me that he loves our conversations even more than the sex, and he really likes the sex! I’m supposed to give up on the guy who, when we kiss, becomes overwhelmed with a desire to have me, but will back off if I tell him no, and who has told me that I never have to apologize for not being able to do something sexual that he might enjoy…
I’m supposed to give up on that to go after men who unashamedly cheat on their significant others and talk about how awful their women are behind their backs…
No thank you. I deserve better.
Which brings me to the other post I came across, from The Bolde. It’s an entirely different type of site, one that is designed to empower women and to help them feel better about things like being picky. In fact, that was exactly what the article was about: I’m Not Picky… It talks about recognizing that you deserve more.
Women are often told that they should settle eventually, and we’ve talked about how the idea of the Nice Guy comes from the idea that women should feel lucky to have whatever man will have them. Goes back to that whole “women are just good for having babies” ideology that for some reason still runs rampant in the minds of many men, particularly men in power for some reason.
But The Bolde, and this article in particular, spoke about how no, those of us who haven’t settled down yet aren’t trying to be difficult. It’s not like we’re just sitting around waiting for the jerkiest guy in the room to hit on us so that we’ll date them, which seems to be the prevailing thought. Even the Bartender told me once that he thought perhaps I just picked assholes, and then tried to stick it out with them because I thought I had to.
He was partially right. I did tend to pick assholes. When I was younger I wanted an Alpha Male, and I didn’t know there was a difference between Alpha and Asshole. Now I know that I want an Intellectual Alpha, who is dominant when it’s necessary, but only because he has a unique set of skills that make him a leader in his area of passion.
His alpha qualities extend to certain aspects of his life, not all of them, and I’m learning that what makes for a good balance is when my alpha qualities fit in the spaces where his don’t. As such, the Bartender and I are a good fit!
So I’m not settling for him. I’m actively choosing someone who actually is good for me, until that time when he’s not. In the meantime, I’m still looking to see if there is someone better qualified to fit my needs, because, no, he doesn’t fulfill all of them because of his current situation.
So I keep looking, while, not so secretly, I keep hoping he’ll just make the decision I think he knows in his heart is the right one and change his circumstances so our story becomes more than just a short story.
Because, whether the rest of the world sees it or not, I see how our story, the Bartender’s and mine, could be one of the great romance stories of the ages! And maybe, one day I’ll sit down and write it.