Sometimes You Need A Palate Cleanser

I think I’ve managed to give the impression that I take sex and dating very seriously. That’s far from accurate, after all, I’m the genius that brought you The Revenge Fuck & Other Bad Ideas. It’s just that I think a lot about the impact of sex and dating, so I’m pretty thorough about my reflections –  after the fact. That impact leaves a pretty strong aftertaste, and sometimes it takes a good palate cleanser to prepare you for what comes next. Preferably, a really hot one.

Lanae wrote about the Post Divorce Phases a while ago, and she’s right on. What she refers to as the The Slut Phase is the “lots of sex right after divorce” stage. I think this applies to the initial phase after any break up, and I think it’s essential. That is the phase in which we enjoy lots of tasty palate cleansers.

The trick is choosing people who are NOT relationship material.  It’s not because I’m callous and don’t believe in love – it’s quite the opposite. I think that in order to really make a relationship work, you have to get rid of as much aftertaste from the last relationship as possible.

Assuming that relationships end because they don’t work, because they have more bad than good in them, they likely create both bad habits and some damaging messaging in your head and heart. The Palate Cleanser erases that residue.

  • A relationship in which there was no sex can easily leave you feeling like you are not sexy and desirable, finding someone who shows you that you are sexy and desirable can help undo that. Yah yah yah, I know, sexy comes from the inside and if you don’t feel it inside yourself, it’s not real. I get that, and I believe that. However, we’re a reflective species, whether we want to be or not. So having someone look at your ass and tell you how delicious it is will make you notice your ass in a new way. You have to buy it and own it, but he can show where it is.
  • If you are in a relationship in which you don’t feel like you can ask for what you want, your best Palate Cleanser relationship is likely to be one in which you demand what you want. You may even go too far, but it will teach you how to get your needs met – even going too far will teach you how to find balance in the next one.
  • If you are in a relationship in which you feel like your partner was too needy and wanted you to change too much, your best Palate Cleanser relationship is likely to be one in which your partner is distant and removed, but that will also help you find the balance that works better in the next real relationship.

But more than anything, your palate cleansers need to be all about you. They are about discovering what you want and what you don’t want, and learning how to thrive within in boundaries that you discover.

Your friends may say, “what the hell are you doing with that guy?” Your answer is, “he’s teaching me stuff about me, and I’m enjoying it. No more, no less.”  These are not mistakes.

Right after my marriage, I went straight into a 2-year relationship (with someone who wasn’t even all the way out of his marriage.) Our relationship  never had a chance, because neither one of us spread our wings and shook off our marriages. We needed palate cleansers, and didn’t get them. We went from the frying pan into the fire, with all our after taste, baggage, broken dreams and gallons of resentment. Recipe for disaster.

After him, however, I had the most perfect palate cleanser you can imagine. We had both just broken up and were each other’s palate cleanser. There was no expectation – or desire – for a “happily ever after” relationship, and with our brains out-of-the-way we were free to just have fun. Lots of fun.

That was probably the hottest sex I had  to that point in my life, and it was because I was free from expectation, hope, judgement.  It was fabulous. When it was over – calmly and peacefully – I had a much better idea of who I was and what I wanted.

  • I liked the casualness of it, he taught me that I don’t want to have to check in with someone all the time, or worry about what they’re doing, or get locked into plans. But I also realized that I do want someone I can call when I have a good day or a bad day or just need a hug, he was not that. Balance.
  • He taught me that I really do like a lot of sex, and I don’t want to have to worry about playing a role and performing tricks for someone in order to earn a relationship. My previous ex used sex as a way for me to earn things. My Palate Cleanser was just so incredibly into my body and our sex that anything we discovered and explored was truly organic and celebrated – no games. He taught me not to use sex as commerce.
  • He was incredibly secure and sure of himself, and he taught me that I didn’t want to have to soothe someone’s ego or psyche as his lover. I loved that our sex was just about sex, it wasn’t about healing, or proving that he was good enough, or that I loved him enough, or….  It was truly free from psychological games, for the first time in my life, and it was amazing. I still haven’t compromised on that lesson.

He also had the hottest body I’d ever seen, which is totally irrelevant, but every time I saw it I just gasped – “SERIOUSLY?”

Actually, it’s not irrelevant at all. Our attraction was purely physical, and the perspective that gave me is really important. Sometimes sex is just sex. Even though the impact it has on us can be long-lasting, it is okay to want something just because you want it. It will teach you something about yourself, you just have to be willing to learn it.

More than that, it’s easy to judge the men in our lives for wanting pretty girls who seem totally vapid and shallow. But don’t judge it, because it’s okay for you too. (My Palate Cleanser and I could barely carry on a conversation. He was really smart, stable and all that, but we had NOTHING in common.)

If you are tempted to say, “what does he even see in her?” then you owe it to everyone to answer the question. He may see a Palate Cleanser that he needs. He may see a chance to shake off an old relationship in order to get ready for a new relationship. He may just need to rest and relax a bit. He may need to get rid of a bitter aftertaste in order to start fresh.

Just like you. Just like me.

The trick is knowing what you want, and what role you want to play. If you don’t want to be a Palate Cleanser, then don’t be the first girl he fucks right out of a relationship. If you don’t want a relationship, be a Palate Cleanser.

But don’t judge it. Not him. Not you. Don’t judge.

Obviously, I say all this with the assumption that everyone is clear, honest and acts with integrity in ways that don’t harm other people. The key there is just being honest, patient and open to learning.

And having fun. Don’t take it too seriously. There is no better way to ruin love and sex than over-thinking it and trying to make it something that it isn’t.

Besides, chocolate cake with a subtle aftertaste of liver pate is just gross. You owe to everyone to go rinse your mouth out with sex.

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About Alyssa Royse

Alyssa is freelance writer, speaker and coach living in Seattle with her husband and their 3 daughters. She is the former host of Sexxx Talk Radio on The Progressive Radio Network, co-founder of NotSoSecret.com, a site dedicated to empowered women's sexuality, and an Associate Editor at The Good Men Project. She can also be found on her eponymous blog, where she pontificates about food, family, politics and the Seattle rain. Yes, she almost certainly wants to speak at your event, run a workshop or write something for you. Just ask.

3 thoughts on “Sometimes You Need A Palate Cleanser

    • I don’t have any idea who he is, it was for a naked-waiter service. All I know is that it illustrated the point perfectly. And that, ironically, he is about as far from “my type” as I can imagine. 🙂

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