Tag Archives: relationships

The Stigma Of Being Single (Especially If You’re A Man)

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Picture, for a moment, a single woman in her mid-30s with no kids. What’s the image that comes to mind? For most people, especially those who watch sitcoms or have seen one episode of “Sex In The City,” a certain narrative plays out that helps shape that picture.

The woman is probably not a supermodel, nor could she be mistaken for Sarah Jessica Parker. She probably has a stable career. She probably has her own money, a tight social circle, and a fair amount of independence. She likely has a few hobbies and passions outside her career. Even if she isn’t in a relationship, it’s easy to imagine her being happy with her situation.

The fact that she’s single wouldn’t raise many red flags. That said, there are some stigmas associated with being single at a certain age for women. There’s still this misguided notion that women who are single at that age have somehow come up short in life. Every woman has different reasons for being single. By and large, though, we tend to have sympathy for women who stay single.

Now, picture a single man in his mid-30s with no kids. What image comes to mind in that instance? Chances are it’s not the same as that picture you imagined of a single woman. A single man in his mid-30s probably won’t inspire mental pictures of Channing Tatum. Hell, it probably won’t even inspire pictures of Jonah Hill.

A single man in his mid-30s with no kids will likely raise more red flags than the woman. It’s not just that the man is struggling to forge a meaningful relationship. He’s not just unlucky in love. There’s something wrong with him. A man like that must be a creep to some extent. He must have some sort of shortcoming or deficiency that repulses the opposite sex.

Maybe he has unhealthy hobbies.

Maybe he has a short temper and abusive tendencies.

Maybe he’s just a lazy slob who doesn’t even try.

It’s still entirely possible that a single man in his 30s is just content being single. He doesn’t feel inclined to pursue a relationship at the moment. He’s healthy, relatively attractive, and contributes positively to society. He’s not opposed to being in a relationship, but not just for the sake of being with someone.

No matter how common that possibility is, though, that’s probably not the first assumption you would make if all you knew about a man was that he’s over 30 and single. Even though marriage rates are declining, there’s still a stigma associated with being single beyond a certain age. It exists for women and men, but the stigma is more pronounced for men.

There’s no getting around it. A single man in his mid-30s is going to evoke a different reaction. It’s not a double standard like some of the others I’ve cited. It’s just the byproduct of different expectations and assumptions. I know this better than most because I’m a single man in my mid-30s with no kids and I’ve witnessed some of these reactions.

It’s subtle, but noticeable. When I tell someone I’m single and in my 30s, I get this weird look. If the person doesn’t know me very well, I get the sense they’re a little concerned. Once they learn that about me, I suspect they think that’s creepy or odd. There have been times when I’ve seen people, mostly women, get uncomfortable when they learn I’m over 30 and single.

There was even one instance where a woman at a store asked if I was gay. That really caught me off-guard, but it was the first time when I really felt the stigma of being single. I laughed it off at the time and so did the woman. However, when I later recalled the incident, I felt genuinely anxious about my status. I worry that it will undermine my ability to find love in the future.

I’ve even seen it among relatives. While most of my family don’t make a big deal out of it, there are a few who express concern about me. They see my age and my relationship status as a problem to be solved. I can understand that sentiment. I even appreciate it because I know it comes from sincere concern. Even so, I still feel the stigma on some levels.

I know I’m not alone in that. As much progress as we’ve made in society, with respect to tolerating non-traditional relationships, there’s still this over-arching sentiment that being single is a deficiency. It’s not so much a choice as it is an excuse. When it’s less subtle, it can be downright demeaning. It takes many forms, but often carries similar themes.

Your standards are too high.

You’re not a desirable companion.

You’re too high-maintenance and clingy.

You’re past your prime.

You’ve got little to offer.

I’ve seen this levied at women and men. I know women who get very combative when someone tries to figure out why they’re not in a relationship after a certain age. I honestly don’t blame them, but I’ve seen those same women get plenty of sympathy. Even when they make excuses, men and women alike will offer them support when they need it.

As a man, though, I feel like I can’t get away with that. If I were as apprehensive as some of the women I’ve known, I wouldn’t get a lick of sympathy. If anything, I would be scorned. Men would look down at me as desperate and whiny. Woman would look down on me as pathetic and weak. None of those traits warrant much sympathy or support.

On some levels, I  understand why being single is stigmatized. For society to grow, it needs people to get together, forge close society bonds, and creature stable families. People who remain single aren’t contributing to that growth and stigma is just one way of incentivizing them to try harder, even if it creates distressing taboos.

I can also understand why the stigma is more pronounced in men. Like it or not, men tend to commit more crime. Men who lack the influence of a stabilizing relationship tend to cause more deviance and there’s even some research to back that up. It’s one of those instances where a particular prejudice has some statistics behind it.

However, statistics rarely tell the entire story. More often than not, they leave out critical details. In my case, the primary factor that has influenced my single status is a desire not to be with someone just for the sake of being with someone. I’ve seen more than one person fall into the trap of being with someone who is totally wrong for them, but stays with them to avoid being single.

I don’t want that for myself. I want any relationship I have, be it romantic or platonic, to be for the right reasons. Being single hasn’t made me feel more inclined to commit crime or do something deviant. It’s a reasonable choice that I made for myself and I don’t regret it. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating when other people make misguided assumptions about why I’m single.

I’ve met women who’ve made similar choices. I’ve also known plenty more who are single for different, but understandable reasons. They’re not selfish predators who are just holding out to marry a prince who will love them, cater to their every need, and be their personal pocketbook. There are women like that, but they’re the annoyingly loud exception and not the norm.

When it comes to being single, the lingering stigma feels like a very small battle in a much larger war involving gender, society, and politics. As a self-professed romantic, I’m all for encouraging people to find love and forge relationship. It’s a beautiful thing and I feel like that same stigma undermines the beauty.

On top of that, it shoves yet another wedge between men and women when we already have too many of those. We’ve steadily moved away from the notion that an unmarried woman at a certain age must either be a widow, a prostitute, or a nun. There’s still room for improvement, but we’re steadily making progress in empowering people to find their way, regardless of whether they’re single.

At the same time, a man remaining single is not prone to as much scrutiny as we’ve seen in in the past. There are still assumptions and anxieties that are uniquely associated with single men. Regardless of whether single men or single women have it worse, I feel as though one part of the stigma is being addressed while the other is being overlooked.

Like it or not, this is going to be an increasingly relevant issue. As women stay single for longer, there are going to be more single men. That’s just basic math. The desire to find someone special won’t go away anytime soon. The stigma is just making it more difficult and a lot less romantic.

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Daily Sexy Musing: Handyman Sex Appeal

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Let’s face it. No matter how many high-tech gadgets we have in our lives, they’re going to break at some point. Whether it’s our cell phones or our toilets, it’s inevitable. Things break, no matter how complicated or simple they are. That just makes the people who repair them an integral part of our lives.

They often go overlooked and underappreciated. However, whenever something we value stops working, we depend on them to get the job done. When the eventually do fix something for us, we’re not just relieved. We’re astonished by them. Sometimes, that astonishment can have a very sensual connotation.

I’ve seen this happen more than once. Women see a man who can fix things and they find that genuinely attractive. Some may call it shallow, being attracted to someone on the basis of what they can do for them. That doesn’t make the feeling less real. It can get pretty intense too. When someone does something that inherently valuable for you, a part of you is going to want to thank them in a way beyond paying a repair bill.

The following Daily Sexy Musing is a testament to the handymen and handywomen who keep our complicated world working. Their sex appeal is underrated and worth celebrating. Think of that the next time you need something fixed. That person who can fix it for you might just end up being the sexiest person in the world. Enjoy!

Something breaks.

My world stops.

I try and a I fail to remedy it.

Then, I call you and you respond. I watch as you toil with things I cannot comprehend, tweaking and tinkering in ways I do not dare. You get down on your knees. You get your hands, face, and body so dirty. I feel dirty just watching you, but in the best possible way.

You speak with such knowledge and insight. You give me answers that seemed so distant. I learn from you what I did wrong or didn’t know to do in the first place. It’s humbling. Under your expertise, I feel smaller. As you speak, I feel like I’m looking up at a titan, one with the knowledge and skill to right the wrongs in my world.

These things that I rely on are my weakest link. Your ability to fix them turns that weakness into a strength. With you, I am no longer vulnerable. Together, we are equipped to use the best tools to overcome the greatest challenges. To be with you is to be so much more than my resources.

I have things you don’t have.

You have skills I don’t possess.

Together, we have it all.

When the work is done, the burden is lifted. My world continues, but it’s not enough to go back to the way things were. I seek to make things better and more robust. For that, I need your expertise. For you, I’m willing to offer my heart and so much more.

I reach out to you, not minding the dirt and toil still clinging to your hands. I embrace you, not minding the sweat and grime that your hard work has compiled. If anything, it excites me. Your skill with those hands makes me want to share some skills of my own. Driven by gratitude and grace, I have every incentive to get the job done, just like you.

You fixed my things.

I welcome you into my world.

Together, we forge an unbreakable passion.

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Daily Sexy Musing: Celebrating Role Playing

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Role playing is one of those rare activities that is either too kinky or not kinky enough. As someone who has dressed up for the New York Comic Con before and met many amazing cos-player, I have a special appreciation for those who dress up and embrace a unique role. It doesn’t always have to be of a sexual nature, but it definitely has sexual potential.

When done right, it can be pretty damn sexy and a lot of fun. Not every intimate activity has to channel the romantic intensity of a Shakespearean play or a “Twilight” novel. It can just be two people having fun in their own unique way. That way doesn’t always have to include being who you’ve always been. It’s okay to channel a role very different from your usual persona.

You don’t have to be an actor. You don’t have to be a self-professed nerd or a theater guru. You and your lover just have to have a desire to mix things up and let yourself go. The following Daily Sexy Musing is both a celebration and an encouragement of the sexier parts of role playing. I hope it inspires people and their lovers, among other things. Enjoy!

We come home after a long, hard day. We’re tired, but restless. For hours on end, we do our part and carry out every task. It’s not always rewarding. Sometimes, it’s downright thankless. That makes what we’re about to do both desirable and necessary.

Behind closed doors, shrouded by curtains and blinds, we shed the persona that helps us function in the outside world. The weight, restraints, and shackles disappear. Finally, we’re free. We can cut loose. Alone, we can find certain reprieve. Together, we can do so much more.

I can be a secret agent, seducing a fellow spy.

I can be a cop enticing a sexy suspect.

I can be a hero receiving a special reward from my grateful bystander.

I can be more than just your lover. At the same time, you can be more than the world allows you to be. Imagine who you want to be and what you wish you could do. Create, in your mind, the most fanciful scenes that heightens your passions and heart. For you, I gladly submit to your whims.

You can be a strict disciplinarian and I can be your deviant pupil.

You can be a charismatic leader and I can be your loyal follower.

You can be the one who acts or the one acted upon.

You can be whatever and whoever you want to be.

The possibilities are endless, bound only by imagination and energy. In this moment, we have plenty of both. Together, we secure a space. We create a scene. I accept my role and you accept yours. One moment, we are just two lovers in a private domain. The next, we are someone and somewhere else entirely.

I am more than your lover.

You are more than mine.

Together, we whisk one another away into a world of fantasy. We leave our limits behind, but carry our desires with us. We act out every moment, ignoring time and constraint. We need not closer our eyes. We need only abandon the grip of reality. The stakes of passion rise, as do the rewards. Through both, our love becomes an adventure.

Like every adventure, we complete a journey. In doing so, we fulfill our role to the utmost.

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Daily Sexy Musing: Loving The Rough Stuff

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When it comes to celebrating love, romance, and everything in between, there’s a popular perception that it has to manifest in certain ways. We’ve seen it play out in movies, TV shows, and novels, some of which I’ve written. There has to be candles, rose petals, and Barry White music playing in the background. If sexy lingerie is somehow worked in, then that’s just a bonus.

From there, it plays out in a way that’s simple, but powerful. There’s plenty of tender kissing, a dash of loving sentiments whispered over the sound of the music, and the kind of tender caressing that makes every nerve shiver for all the right reasons. It’s sweet and sexy in its own right, but I believe there’s room for other kinds of romantic expression.

Not every couple is going to be content with sweet and soft gestures. Even those who enjoy it regularly will probably be in the mood for something else at some point. That’s where the rougher part of romance comes in. By that, I don’t just mean the kind of elaborate BDSM acts that made E. L. James rich. I’m talking about the kind of raw, physical outburst that puts a little something extra into lovemaking.

These days, it’s somewhat tricky to celebrate rough sex. It’s become taboo to be rough with any intimate partner. The reasons for this are many and I’ve already written multiple articles about the tricky politics surrounding it. For this Daily Sexy Musing, I just want to dig a bit deeper into the unique appeal of the rough stuff that often finds its way into a passionate romance. Enjoy!

It’s our night again. We’ve gotten through our day, clearing ourselves of any and all distractions. Now that the sun has set, our priorities align. I love you and you love me. Now, we turn that love into action.

The stage is set.

The moment has arrived.

The desire wells up inside us.

We come together and let our passions do the talking. It’s simple and direct. I feel your body in my arms, tasting your lips with mine and savoring every sensation. You return every gesture, letting love and lust converge into a singular feeling. I can tell you want me. I want you too. Tonight, we’re going to fulfill those wants. Then, just as the feeling escalates, we realize something.

It’s not enough.

We stop kissing. I look at you and you look at me. My arms tremble and your body shudders. The weight of hard truth sinks in. To hold each other, kiss each other, and make love to one another just won’t suffice. For this night, we crave something more.

I see a glint in your eye and a twitch in your face. In an instant, you transform from an innocent angel to a mischievous demon. Within me, humanity gives way to more primal instincts. The balance of love and lust tips in favor of lust. We don’t fight it. In fact, we embrace it. There’s a time and a place to make tender love. Tonight, is not that night.

I don’t just kiss your lips. I devour them.

I don’t just fondle your body. I smother it.

I don’t just remove your clothes. I rip them off.

There’s nothing gentle about what we do. There’s nothing sweet or soft about it, either. We make our way to the bed, ravaging one another’s bodies with our lips and hands. We collapse top the sheets. Our flesh comes together. We’re neither careful nor slow. We just take the most basic acts of intimacy and unleash our ounce of pent up desire.

Our bodies rock.

The bed rocks.

The world around us rocks.

Grunts replace moans. Crude words replace loving proclamations. We grab and grope, smothering and salivating over the sweet bliss we conjure. This is our love at its most unrefined. Rough yet sincere, we need not channel or temper it. There will be other nights for that. For now, we express our love in the roughest of ways. Whether gentle or raw, our passions remain true.

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Why You Should (And Shouldn’t) Marry Your Best Friend

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Love is complicated. You don’t need to be an aspiring erotica/romance writer to understand that. Anyone who has any experience with love, good and bad alike, finds that out very quickly. As someone who writes about and contemplates it more than most men dare admit, I find many of those complications both fascinating and frustrating.

Recently, one particular complication has interested/confounded me. It has to do with who we ultimately decide we want to spend the rest of our lives with. I know marriage is rapidly changing and I’ve highlighted some of its past deficiencies, but I’m focusing primarily on the romance part. I know love hasn’t always been linked to marriage, but love is a feeling that goes beyond any institution.

That’s what makes it so special when we find someone who we love so much that we want to indelibly link our lives with theirs. Whether or not you call it a marriage is beside the point. Seeking a romantic connection that deep isn’t just the premise of a good romance story. It’s a powerful human drive that has guided us since the hunter/gatherer days.

Whether or not we marry that special someone, having that kind of love for someone and wanting to be with them is a romantic constant that transcends institutions. This brings me to a question that I’ve asked more than once over the years and gotten many conflicting answers that all sound legitimate.

Should you marry your best friend?

I’ve asked it to close friends and family members. I’ve asked that question on Reddit. I’ve even asked it on Twitter. No matter where or how I ask it, though, I always get a wide range of answers. Some say your best friend is the only person you should marry. Others say that’s the last person you should marry. Both give reasons that I can’t entirely disagree with.

As an admitted romantic, this really confounds me. Beyond complicating my efforts to write compelling love stories, it highlights the complexity and diversity surrounding love. Even though it’s a feeling most of us experience, people go about it in such wildly different ways. Remarkably, people can make those ways work and experience intensely meaningful romances.

To understand how, I want to share some of the responses I’ve gotten over the years. When I first started asking the question among close friends and relative, most said without hesitation that you should definitely marry your best friend. Your best friend is someone you know, care for, and stand by through thick and thin. Marrying them is just an extension of that depth.

I’ve seen relationships built on this. When one of my close relatives lost his wife after a nearly 50-year marriage, I could hear the strain in his voice when he said he’d just lost his best friend. To him, there was no line dividing the woman he loved and his best friend. The same person he hung out with on a Saturday night is the same person who bore his two children.

It seems definitive, but at the same time, I have another close relative who sees it very differently. To him, a spouse is someone very different from your best friend. A spouse is someone with which you share a unique intimacy that you can’t have with any other friend, no matter how close you are. Trying to mix friends and spouses is like trying to get a plumber to fix your computer.

Whether you agree with that sentiment or not, this same relative has been married to the same woman for over four decades. Their love is every bit as intimate as anyone else’s. I’ve seen them interact differently with each other than they do with their friends. This is how they go about their relationship and it works for them.

On the other side of the spectrum, I’ve seen people who’ve tried to answer this question prove themselves dead wrong. One of my cousins made it clear in seeking a partner that he didn’t want a best friend. He wanted a wife. He wanted someone he could share his life with and later build a family. He eventually did find someone and they had that family.

However, their relationship was never that stable. They ended up getting divorced after less than 10 years and it was one of those divorces that surprised nobody. My cousin and his wife both shared the same goal. They even shared the same approach to finding love. Despite that, they couldn’t make it work.

Something similar happened to a girl I knew in college. She was a romantic like me and she once told me that she would only marry her best friend. I believed her and I may have even encouraged her. Right around my senior year, she claimed she found her best friend and she couldn’t wait to marry him. Like my cousin, though, it didn’t work out. They got divorced.

Their reasons for breaking up aren’t mine to reveal. I’ll only say that if you spent a just few days with them, even at their best, you wouldn’t have been surprised about their relationship failing. They were one of those couples that just never took anything seriously enough. They acted as though just being best friends was enough. Relationships, no matter how good they are, still require work.

I could list dozens more examples that prove or disprove both sides. There are plenty of cases where best friends go onto become strong relationships. There are others in which attempting to turn a best friend into a spouse fails miserably. It’s possible that either approach could lead to a profound love story or an agonizing heartbreak.

To add even more complications to the mix, friendship and romance can be one of those things that just never intersects for some people. While some may disagree with me, I believe it is possible for people of different genders and complementary sexual orientations to be just friends. I’ve had female friends that I could never dream of marrying and I guarantee they would say the same thing about me.

At the end of the day, this is one of those rare questions where there are just as many right answers as there are wrong answers. The people who claim their answer is correct can cite plenty of examples beyond their own experiences that are perfectly valid. They could just as easily argue that the other side is wrong and be objectively right on some levels.

In discussing and contemplating this question for many years, I can’t claim I have more insight than anyone else. I feel like I’ve had experience on many friends, both with friends and with romantic partners. In light of that and all the other responses I’ve gotten from this question, I think the only true answer is best summed up with two simple words.

It depends.

I know that sounds like the kind of answer that only a politician would give, but it’s probably the most comprehensive. Some people just approach love in a way that precludes their best friend entirely. Others go about it in a way that practically requires it. Both can work if you and your lover are on the same page. Both can make for great romance stories with plenty of sex appeal.

It can still be frustrating. It can be downright counter-intuitive at times. It’s for that very reason, though, that love and romance can be so intriguing. If something can confound and compel you at the same time, then you know you’re dealing with something uniquely powerful.

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Daily Sexy Musings: Lazy Saturday Loving

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Who doesn’t love a lazy Saturday? You know the ones I’m talking about. They’re those rare days where you go out of your way to clear your schedule, finish every errand, and make damn sure you have nothing major to worry about.

Ever since grade school, I’ve had a special appreciation for those days. It might have been because I was such an overly-stressed grade-grubber with self-esteem issues, but that’s beside the point. I still loved lazy Saturdays back then. I love them now, but as an adult, they’ve gained a sexier dimension.

I don’t deny that healthy, sexy romances take work. In fact, it takes a lot of work, physically and emotionally. That’s exactly why it’s important to set some time aside to enjoy the fruits of all that labor. A lazy Saturday is a perfect venue for that. For that reason, and plenty others, I dedicate this Daily Sexy Musing to the sexiest part of lazy Saturdays. Enjoy!

We turn the alarm off.

We silence our phones.

We lock the doors.

Free of distractions and unburdened of chores, this day is ours. We work and toiled all week to carve this special time for ourselves, a single day in which there are no distractions or deadlines to consume our lives. There’s just us, together on our own terms.

We don’t put on fancy clothes. Anything more formal than a pair of underwear is optional, at most. You and I don’t even need clothes for this day. We’re free to cut loose and run wild. There’s no one to impress, no image to maintain. It’s just us and our love, a feeling we can celebrate on our terms.

As we lay in bed, we marvel at the hour. The sun has been up for hours. For once, we’re not out and about, completing one task and lamenting over the next. There’s no commute to endure or gathering to attend. It’s so jarring, but in the best possible way.

I can just be me.

You can just be you.

We can just be us.

On a whim, we embrace. There’s no big setup, fancy clothes, or elaborate spectacle. We just hold each other, bed hair and all. We kiss, conveying as much energy as necessary and not a fraction more. We ditch what little clothes we have on. We make love under the sheets, simple and basic.

In that moment, everything is raw and unrefined. There are no obstacles to overcome or challenges to navigate. We just do what comes naturally and what’s more natural than our love? Whether felt or expressed, it’s so real on this day. That’s when it truly dawns on us.

We can make love multiple times.

We can sleep in for hours on end.

We can loft lazily on the couch, watching whatever we please.

The options are limitless, but there’s no pressure to choose. There’s no schedule to keep. We just do what we wish, guided only by whim and impulse. It’s not just a passing moment in between daily stresses. It’s an entire day for us and only us.

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Daily Sexy Musing: Verbal Foreplay

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I don’t consider myself a flirting expert, nor do I think very highly of the pick-up artist community. The idea of just bullshitting someone into sleeping with you doesn’t really sit well with me. Other than being unromantic, it comes off as the shallowest kind of intimacy. Sure, there’s a place for that sort of thing, but it doesn’t deserve to be glorified.

I’m still a big fan of using words as a catalyst for intimacy. I’m not just talking about the lurid dirty talk that often finds its way into my novels and sexy short stories. I genuinely believe that there’s an art to saying just the right thing in just the right way to turn a tender moment into something extra sexy. It’s not easy knowing how or when to say it, but when it works, it’s downright magical.

There have been only a handful of incidence where I can say with a straight face that I aroused a woman with my words. Those were amazing moments, though. I genuinely hope the women felt the same way. They helped affirm the power of sexy words and saying in just the right way.

The following Daily Sexy Musing is a tribute to how powerful that kind of sexy rhetoric can be. Regardless of gender or circumstances, it can turn a tiny spark into a passionate flame. You don’t need the wit of Shakespeare. You just need a willingness to turn sexy thoughts into sexier words. Enjoy!

I wait for a brief silence. In the chaos that is our lives, they don’t come by often. That makes every opportunity more precious and I intend to embrace every one of them. I need only you, me, and a quiet place where you can hear my voice above a whisper.

We’ve found just the right moment.

We’re in just the right place.

We have a chance to share illicit sentiment and I’m taking it.

I lean in and talk right into your ear. My tone is barely above a whisper, soft and direct so that there is no ambiguity. I leave nothing to chance. I make abundantly clear all the lurid things I want to do with you. Are you bold enough to handle that sentiment?

I say what needs to be said, unfiltered and uncensored. I await your reaction. I see you tense and I hear you gasp. I also notice your legs shifting, as though I struck just the right chord in your intimate anatomy. You try to hide it, but you don’t try very hard. You let me see your reaction. It says so much without a single word.

You turn and look at me. At first, you’re aghast. Moments later, you’re intrigued. Your expression changes. Gone is the look of innocence and restraint. In your eyes, I see the shackles come off. Your heart and your loins are freed. My words didn’t just pick the lock. It shattered every link on the chain.

You dive eagerly into my grasp.

You whisper devious musings into my ear.

You take my luscious verbiage and turn it against me.

Suddenly, the same chords are struck. Body, mind, and heart go in different directions, but make their way to the same destination. Our words provoke actions. Our actions inform passions. Those passions bring out the extremes of love, lust, and everything in between.

I offer more amorous rhetoric. You respond in kind. Like gusts of wind fueling a firestorm, it drives us to the highest peaks of desire. We don’t just remove our clothes. We rip them off. We don’t just caress one another. Together, we plunge into a sea of depthless desire.

All it took was a few words.

All it took was a distinct tone.

From our voice, the greatest acts of love and desire manifest before us.

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