My quest to "find myself" necessitated a period of sexual sobriety. Well, I wasn't necessarily sexless by conscious choice. It was more of a sub-conscious thing mixed with a little bit of the inevitable. I mean, let's face it: a chick presenting with symptoms of Post Marital Stress Disorder and trust issues is far from a man magnet. You could've dressed me like a hooker, put me on a street corner and I still wouldn't have gotten laid! But, in retrospect, sexual sobriety is probably the best thing that could've happened to me. In a metaphoric sense, having NO SEX was like a purifying Native American sweat lodge. Despite the grueling heat of intense discomfort, restlessness and a crippling desire for physical relief; it was a much needed purging of toxic memories, shame and self-criticism. I was wringing out my soul, exorcising my demons and reconnecting with myself on a deeper, more spiritual level. I was free from distraction and gaining clarity through introspection and an uninterrupted connection to my gut, my intuition, my true self. I was figuring my shit out.
During this period of sexual sobriety, I heard a relationship counselor on late night TV describe the three stages of a relationship. 1.) Lust 2.) Friendship 3.) Attachment. I contemplated this idea deeply and started analyzing my marriage against these three stages. I quickly realized that my EX and I had made a lifetime commitment to one another during the LUST phase of our relationship. That was bold. We were engaged a mere 8 months into our long-distance relationship! Back then, and even now, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that we were soul mates destined into this relationship together. We were living on opposite coasts but our love felt deep, intense and real. We were experiencing a mutually unprecedented, emotional connection that felt divinely inspired. There was so much synchronicity, so many shared values, interests and dreams that it couldn't be anything else but sheer destiny that brought us together. The major pro of having a long distance relationship was that it required open and honest communication plus implicit trust, which we valued as a solid foundation. We talked on the phone and e-mailed daily; discussing everything from our dysfunctional childhoods, life dreams, embarrassing moments, greatest memories and deepest secrets. Plus, we talked about stuff like our views on marriage, kids, loyalty and commitment. We provided each other with emotional support. We were each other's sounding board and voice of reason. And we made each other laugh... a lot! We were lucky because, despite the 3,000 miles between us we did get to see each other pretty frequently; sometimes monthly. And, when we did, we totally and completely, unabashedly and uninhibitedly indulged in lusty pleasure. Anytime. Anywhere. Anyplace. Besides christening every nook and cranny of my Brooklyn studio apartment and many a hotel room in the tri-state area; we didn't hold back from doin' it in rental cars in busy parking lots, Amtrak trains or his Auntie's kitchen counter... or under tables at Studio 54 or the swanky restroom at Lotus before they even did it on Sex & the City. As far as we were concerned, we had it all: open communication, implicit trust, honesty, hot sex, common goals, shared values and exciting dreams for an adventurous and loving relationship!
The tricky thing about the LUST phase is your hazy sense of judgement due to the reality-numbing, feel-good hormones that prevent conscious recognition of anything that might hurt you mentally or emotionally over the long-term. You don't have the clarity of vision to recognize the red flags. Although your sub-conscious may make a a mental note to "proceed with caution", LUST (your heart + vajayjay) trumps all and you see nothing but "GO!"... unless, that is, you have the personal strength to heed the warnings!
The other con to us making a lifetime commitment during the long-distance LUST phase was venturing into the unexplored territory of cohabitation without ever even having lived in the same state. That happened 11 months after our engagement when I moved to Los Angeles. (Our wedding was only 3 months later). What was I expecting day-to-day life to be like, living under the same roof, after I had lived alone for years? And just how well and how quickly would I adjust after starting a new life and a new career in a new city with my new husband? Well, LUST didn't ease the internal disruption that was the inevitable result of facing so much simultaneous life change; no matter how ridiculously in-love I was with my EX and wanted to be with him. But it's so easy to get caught up in the fantasy of love, romance and happily ever after, rather than the pragmatics of daily life with another person. We were suddenly faced with really getting to know one another and how to accommodate each other's living habits. Plus, we had to adjust to shared finances and making joint decisions that would effect our future together. Not to mention, how to support (tolerate) one another's changing moods. Because the LUST PHASE doesn't prepare you for any of that or prepare you for how someone manages disappointment, rejection, failure, money problems or extended family issues. This is when I feel the FRIENDSHIP PHASE of your relationship emerges; when you can sustain the attraction that initially swept you off your feet during the LUST PHASE while developing mutual love, respect, compassion and understanding for one another through the good, the bad and the ugly of real life.
Well, me and my EX happily and successfully endured the unstable LUST PHASE despite all of the major life changes we tested it with. In fact, we became best friends that also happened to be madly and passionately in-love. I think the rift in our relationship happened in the ATTACHMENT PHASE.