Bigger infinities…

‘And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.’
Stephen Chbosky, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

My A-level maths teacher was a brilliant man, which was a bonus as I took both maths and further maths so spent a lot of time in his company. He had a way of explaining all of the incredibly abstract concepts that made them easy to understand. Sometimes it was with slow and steady explanations, sometimes with repetition, and sometimes with analogies.

During one lesson, we were discussing infinities and what a truly beautiful mathematical idea they can be. An infinity is, by definition, everything – the whole, the total; all of it. But some infinities are bigger than others. Infinity plus one is bigger than just infinity. Infinity squared is even bigger again. Something that is everything can still be smaller than another everything. And he offered us the most perfect analogy to help us understand this.

‘I love you more than I want you, but I want you all the time.’

It is perhaps a strange thing to say to a room of 17 year old girls but he said it like it was nothing but a way to understand the maths. Despite this, the words worked their way deep into my impressionable 17 year old heart.

‘I love you more than I want you, but I want you all the time.’

Yesssssss, I thought. That is what I want! That would be my everything; my infinite happiness. Someone who I want every second of every day and with whom we could have flammable sex and who fills every part of me, but who I love more than that. Who I love more than everything. And quite apart from wanting infinite sex and infinite love, I really liked that it was in that order – that sex came first. That love may be a bigger infinity but that sex was also infinite and also important and needed to be there. It was quite the epiphany I had in my maths lesson!

Because I worry sometimes that sex is given too little weight in relationships. No one will judge you for leaving someone you don’t love or who doesn’t make you happy, but there’s a reluctance to leave if just the sex is bad. We compromise, we make allowances, we suffer, perhaps we cheat, but we don’t leave until there’s another excuse. Is it guilt? Is it because blaming sex is too visceral, too personal somehow?

This issue has been at the front of my mind since Daisy Buchanan wrote an answer to almost this exact question in Grazia a week or so ago. The letter was from a woman who was struggling with her boyfriend because their sex lives had deteriorated. ‘Everything else is great, and my friends think I’d be crazy to break up with a good boyfriend because of a bad sex life. Is there any way I can make things better? Do I just have to put up with this?’

Daisy’s answer was frankly brilliant:

‘I think sex is a key part of the way we connect with our partners. Some couples are content to build their bond and experience intimacy in other ways, and if that suits everyone, that’s entirely valid. But sex is a way to be tender and intimate and elevate your relationship beyond friendship. Our partners often become our very best friends, because we’re so close to them and spend so much time with them. However, if you don’t want each other, and touch each other often, it’s difficult for the relationship to retain its romantic dimension.’

And this really is the key. It is possible to love someone with your whole heart, to love them entirely and infinitely, but not want them. I know this because I’ve done it. One of my regretfully many unrequited loves was with a man who I adored but didn’t fancy. At all. Oh, I loved him. I wanted to spend every second with him. I wanted to tell him every good and every bad thing that happened to me and spending time with him made me so happy, but I didn’t want to kiss him. I didn’t want to see him naked. Even when I yearned to be with him, I only ever wanted to hug him. So my crush didn’t last. Of course it didn’t! He was just a great friend and I still adore him but it’s not the love I thought it was. It’s familial love or platonic love or whatever phrase you chose but it’s not romantic love. It’s not Love with a capital L.

Sex is what gives love that capital L. I really believe that! I think this blog confirms that I think sex is very important and I hope that if you’re reading this you agree. Not everyone has the same sex drive but everyone does have a sex drive! Everyone has a need, whether it’s daily or weekly or monthly or yearly, and everyone has desires, whether vanilla or kinky or any combination of the above, and they are important and should, well, match. Underestimating this cannot help but create tension. Of course compromises can be reached but I don’t think this is an area than can be compromised too far. We all know what we want from a partner and that should include sexual satisfaction. There’s no shame in wanting that or leaving if you can’t find it.

The amazing thing about infinite happiness is that it’s almost impossible to know if you have it as it always has the capacity to get bigger. But for the first time, I feel like I’m on the way there. I am having the best sex of my life with a man who can turn me on with a few words and I want him all. the. time. But I love him more. No matter how much I want him, I love him more. And it does keep getting bigger. It’s astounding.

So I’d urge you all to prioritise sex in your relationships because it does create opportunities for connection and intimacy that you just don’t find in other partnerships. It’s too important to dismiss. It changes relationships from friendships to lovers; it can change everything.

To infinity, and beyond…

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