The other night my single mom friend Sarah and I were IMing about how we prefer men who are aggressive in bed.
“I'm the CEO of my entire life!” Sarah complained. “Do you know how hot it is to let someone else take over for 20 minutes?”
“It's not just in bed – give me a vacation from my life for a while,” I responded. I was referencing my weekend date — a guy I met on OKCupid named Lou who I have pretty much nothing in common with but proved to be the perfect Saturday night activity. For the past few months I've been in a dateless funk fueled by disappointment that a love interest didn't pan out and a long, grey, life-filled winter. Despite being little of what I am looking for in the long-term, this Sicilian-born, Harley-riding electrical engineer from Queens charmed me with a witty profile, flirty and articulate messages and pics that suggested — quite accurately, I found — a darling smile and a 6'3″ body built like a brick shit house.
Hotness aside, I knew Lou was just what my mental health needed when he called to arrange the date. He would drive to my neighborhood, so, per protocol, I promised to text him a location to meet. “What are you talking about?” he said in a loud, friendly, Queens accent. “I'm picking you up and I'm taking you out!”
Music to my ears!
Let me back up here. If I had to describe myself — which one is prone to do when she finds herself juxtaposed with a Lou — it would be that I'm a New York intellectual who dates more or less the same. My boyfriends tend to be writers and film makers interested in lefty politics and sustainable urban development. Lots of skinny jeans, the occasional fedora and dates that involve plenty of polite negotiating and triangulating a mutually convenient meeting point. Lou is Republican who wore a gold crucifix under his slim-cut waffle shirt, and he picked me up and took me out.
When I got in the car, I immediately took to Lou's big, warm vibe. He took my hand and kissed my cheek hello, cracking a giant, handsome smile. “What's this?” he said. “You're the only woman I know who doesn't do her nails!” And off we went in his pickup all the way across Queens to a neon-lit Mexican restaurant with valet parking.
I could write a whole post on the beauty of going out with men you have no interest in dating long-term. If you don't care if you ever see the guy again, somehow everyone is freer to be themselves — and enjoy each other more. If I was looking at Lou through relationship goggles, I might have bristled when describing his most recent relationship with a woman who moved into her new house by transporting one dining chair per day in her car.
“Look, sometimes I like to be a man, you know?” Lou said. “I told her, ‘Listen, I'll come by Saturday with three of my friends and we'll move you in one day.' But she said I was being too pushy. Women!” Instead of recoiling in feminist disgust, my interest was piqued. What other ways did he like to be a man? And was he going to show me on our singular date?
That's the thing with the Lou's of the world, Sarah and I agreed. We love that they take over plans for the evening, and then take over our bodies for the night. When you are an independent woman with lots of responsibilities, many men assume that we want to carry out that strong role all the time. But I need to feel like a woman, and the times I enjoy that most are when I am with a man. If I am being honest with myself, being a woman means – to a degree – being passive. And that requires a man who is – to a degree – the alpha.
Lou is not going to be my boyfriend. My boyfriend will be “an artsy-fartsy guy” (as Lou described my type) with whom I will triangulate our first date. I loved hanging out with Lou, the macho way he relived me of any responsibility for the evening, the easy way I fell into passively following his lead, crucifix dangling in my face much of the night. But I am a woman with an opinion or 50, and a clear vision for my role in the world. I can't imagine settling for anything less than intimacy with someone who is my partner, my equal. Can that person be someone who is totally dominant? Could I ever be happy being consistently passive?
“You're fun to hang out with,” Lou said, pulling the covers up to his chin. “Do you like to spoon? Roll over, let me spoon you.”
And I did.
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Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.
Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.