Tag Archives: relationships

Birth of Venus: The Story Behind Venus in Heels

 

I always had a subversive take on love—so why not write about it?

As glamorous as it sounds, back in 2009 when I started Venus in Heels, I was a freelance music and entertainment writer hungrily navigating the supersaturated city of New York, trying to scrap together my next high-paying gig. Yes, I made my living giving good convo to rock n’ roll stars, but for some reason making small talk with famous strangers didn’t fulfill me in the slightest. Sure, I had an enviable job and access to the musical and cultural geniuses of our time, but I was always left wanting more. I desired to help and connect to people through my writing—digging deeper than the surfaced pieces I was churning out about fashion trends and the next “big” thing sonically. There had to be more, right? So, in my quest for fulfillment—bodily, emotionally, and spiritually—I began my Venus in Heels journey. That, and I needed something productive and creative to occupy those never-ending idle hours between my dwindling freelance jobs.

My aim was to put my unconventional views about love, romance, dating, and the major misconceptions about “proper” ways to engage with the opposite sex to paper. I wanted to help expose the fallacy of happy endings, to help women find empowerment through sex, and help to turn the old school rule of romance on its head. Modern women deserve modern rules, and I saw far too many of my contemporaries caught in the dichotomy of dating within the confines of an old system. Those notions of relationships just don’t apply, but up until this point, there was no definitive source for information on contemporary courtships or how to date on your own terms.

You may be asking yourself why I am qualified to write about romance. I might not have fancy degrees hanging from the walls of my office (nope, instead I have photographs of Iggy Pop and Rod Stewart), but I have notches on my bedpost, keen insight derived from years of playing the field, guiding my friends on their romantic journeys, and a solid understanding of both the male and female psyche. Venus in Heels isn’t a clinical look at love and romance, a debauched tale of my bedroom conquests, or a self-help blog. Instead, I want to position Venus in Heels as a forum for curious men and women to be thoughtfully provoked to look deeper into the realms of love and dating, and to question the old school conception of romance so many people still seem to live by.

Venus in Heels is a Subversive Guide to Romance because we must challenge the norm to achieve our own truth and understanding about what makes us happy—and what makes us feel truly empowered when it comes to love, courtship, and sexual exploration. I never played by the rules. I openly pursued men when all my friends accused me of being brash, I made the first move when others warned me I was too forward or would be viewed as a slut, and I always tried to follow my heart wherever it took me. I made mistakes, which I have learned from. My quest for love was fearless.  It is an endless pursuit.

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The Gray Area: Being happy with being content

For someone that considers herself to be an all-or-nothing type of gal—you know that black and white mentality that’s anything from temperate?—coping with what I call the “gray area” has been an arduous and unglamorous undertaking. What is the gray area of which I speak? Well, it’s that place that exists between the two extremes, a place that is pleasantly breezy and exempt from drastic action. The gray area symbolizes peace and habitual action, monogamy, trust, safety and security. Oh, and love.

Basically, for me, the gray area has always symbolized a state of being that’s the complete antithesis of sexy. It’s not in-line with my character, which drives off of exalted experiences, high-impact happenings, and heightened emotions. This middle ground, this comfortable place, is what I am not accustomed to. Monogamy, routine, love, safety, trust—these are foreign notions for someone who has spent her life playing the field, one moral ambiguity at a time. And, no I was never doing things to outwardly hurt people or to affect the lives of others, or to rock the boat for the very sake of rocking it. Instead I was following my heart. Sometimes my heart is wrong. I made mistakes that did lead to people getting emotionally injured, but I never pursued amorous adventures with malicious intent. As my mom always says: “The heart wants what the heart wants,” and at a certain point in my life I was willing to feed all of my urges—good or bad.

The point being is that I was constantly challenging the notion of love, romance, and my own preconceived ideas of how to pursue these pleasures. It was really never about settling down, and if I did actually stay grounded with someone it would have to be a connection built heavily on the strong foundation (and fallacy) of undying lust. I wasn’t basing my life on the big L word—and I’m not talking lesbians here, although I am not opposed to lady-love in the slightest. Love was always there like an elusive beast lurking in the fantastical forest, but it wasn’t necessarily what I was looking for, or rather, I wasn’t really sure I had perfected the right definition of what it really was. While, I am not certain I have found the answer to that age old question, I can safely say that I am sure that I have found some permutation of love that’s far closer to healthy and closer to something stable and secure. That is exactly what my problem is.

While you may be right in saying to yourself that my predicament is far from a real problem, it’s more about me adopting a new mode of operating—to embrace a new way of life, so to speak. And, yes, I know how ridiculous it sounds that I have to reconfigure myself and my life to let love in, but I have a feeling this problem is way more common than you might imagine. Some people just come out of the womb knowing how to love and how to negotiate a functioning relationship. The remaining others, like myself, tread water trying to figure out first what we want, and second what to do with what we want once we get it. Dealing with your prize is the first step of the learning process. Once you have the object of your desire do you even want them anymore? Is the idea better than the real thing? Is the fantasy better than the cold, sober intimacy? In most of the relationships I’ve been involved in throughout my life, the answer to these questions was what bogged me down. I can’t say that I was always excited about the person I was hot and heavily pursing once I had them in my arms and in reality.

I guess you can say that part of my black and white existence makes me a fantasy-driven person who thrives off of the highs and lows rather than the in-betweens. I also get bored very easily because once I conquered my crush the chase was over and I quickly reached a plateau. This was primarily the case with many of my previous liaisons because I wasn’t with the right people. I was enamored with people because of looks, unsustainable sexual chemistry because it lacked substance, and whatever other fleeting fascinations I had at that moment. Maybe he was an amazing artist who I quickly became obsessed with, but once the novelty of his incredible talent and the façade of brilliance wore off, he was just reduced back to being just another guy with mommy issues. Next!

And so the story goes…I spent all of my teens and twenties playing this game. But unfortunately it’s the game that feels familiar, and not this feeling of mutual love. To love and to receive it in return is one of the most amazing feelings in the world, but it’s a different kind of feeling. It’s not a rush that sends you on a roller coaster ride of emotions (although it can be pretty intense at times), but rather a constant energy that grows each day. And while I write this I recognize how silly it is to complain about something that we as humans spend a majority of our lives searching and doing ridiculous things for. But as I said above, it’s more about the fact that I have to learn to reprogram my habits when it comes to men and this so-called gray area. Gray isn’t necessarily a bad thing it’s just different. And as we all know, change is scary.

What’s the Temperature of Your Sex Life?

Photo by Diane Arbus

It goes without saying that sex is an integral part of any healthy relationship. But after watching this week’s intimacy-themed episode of Tough Love Couples on VH1, I was completely blown away by how many people (on the show and beyond) are dissatisfied with the all-important sexual component of their partnerships. Some of the couples never have sex (one boyfriend described his sex life as “ice cold”), and one very unlucky woman has never experienced an orgasm—which is not surprising seeing as recent studies report that around 10% of women have never had one. The bottom line: when the sex isn’t working there’s definitely larger issues at hand.

The sex-related problems of these televised twosomes range from trust issues and infidelity to communication and the understanding of each other’s unique desires, but something that struck me as odd was the fact that the couple dubbed the “Dramaramas,” who notoriously fight dirty, were the pair with the most successful sex life. Funnily enough, my boyfriend and I thought that comical title would be most apt for our own love story. While we are both lovers, we are also fighters, but this seems more like a personality thing rather than a fatal flaw—if you ask anyone they’d describe both of us as opinionated hot heads.

"Tough Love Couples" cast members, courtesy of VH1

In some cases though, frequent verbal sparring might be covering up for something lacking in the bedroom—I am always telling people that if I’m not fucking, I’m fighting—or it’s an indication that perhaps the romance is over and it’s time to move on. But honestly, I am really convinced that a healthy dose of conflict helps to keep you interested. Love and hate are so closely linked, and when you get your tempers enflamed it’s hard not to get all fired up, if you know what I mean. They didn’t call it “hate sex” for nothing.

While fighting isn’t a solution by any means, it is a good gauge for seeing the dynamics of a relationship. It forces you to ask questions like, “is there enough fire here to maintain this?” and “what exactly is the glue that’s holding us together?” If there’s still love and attraction between a couple the conflict most likely stems from sexual tension—I know this from experience. And, in reality, if I find myself in a situation with someone where all we do is fight and everything about them annoys me (which seems like the case with the couples on the show) then it’s obvious that there’s nothing left but animosity between us.

I did find myself in this situation with my ex-boyfriend of three-years. It became apparent that I was using him as a placeholder until I could come up with a better plan, or find a better man. It got to the point where the thought of having sex with him would literally turn my stomach (why did he always smell like sweaty balls?), and we would maybe see each other once a week for an awkward dinner outing and a chaste goodbye kiss in his car. When I finally broke it off with him, he was so blindsided it was painful for me to watch, but ultimately I knew that neither of us were growing or moving forward and I, myself, was far from happy.

I guess what I am really trying to say is that I think everyone benefits from taking action. Whether this means taking positive action and making an effort to love and respect your partner in a way that will make you both happier, learning to communicate what you both want so you will spend more time satisfied in the sack than fighting it out verbally, or to stand up and address what you truly want and need and if your needs aren’t being met then leave, dammit! It’s like what a wise man once told me, it’s better to be alone and happy then with someone and miserable