The Divide Between Food and Sex It seems that most people are more comfortable talking about food than sex. The question is what hunger are you really attempting to satisfy? BY MARIA RODALE
For many couples, it's easier to talk about food than sex.
“ It’s also time for us to realize that the true hunger isn’t for food or even sex, but for deep connections and intimacy that only lovers can share.”
I love food. I am a food blogger, among other things. I got to thinking about how I too often see, in my own life and in the lives of those around me, that we as a society are so much more comfortable talking about food than sex. As a result, we often confuse the two.
Women, especially, I think, use food as a way to communicate our desires, and when that doesn’t work, we use food to submerge them. We attempt to fill our desire for intimacy, connection, love and, yes, sex with food.
A recent report in The New York Times analyzing what people search for online confirmed my suspicions. For both men and women, the number one marriage complaint searched for is "sexless marriage." Combine that with the search data we see at Men’s Health,Women’s Health, and Prevention magazine (don’t worry, it’s all confidential!) and I’m convinced of the following: Everyone, everyone, wants and needs sex to be healthy and happy.
Just look at the ginormous success of 50 Shades of Grey. It proves that yes, women are hungry for sex. But the other truth is that men need to feel safe, appreciated, and encouraged to communicate and share.
Many people "turn off" their sexual desires using food, excessive exercise, or misplaced moral judgment. People channel their desire (or need for fulfillment) into all sorts of things: careers, hobbies, porn, or affairs.
What we’ve seen through our data (I'm also the CEO and Chairman of Rodale Inc.) is that when men come to our sites looking for sex info, their next step is usually to visit an online dating site. They’re looking for real women to connect with. When women come to our sites looking for sex content, their next stop is usually a toy store. And no, not toys for their kids. It’s the brutal truth… women love power tools just as much as men. I have one married friend who jokes that, "The reason women like to cuddle after sex is that they are not done."
What does this all mean? For whatever reasons—maybe it’s for the sake of the kids or for financial reasons or because it’s easier or because of the food—too many people are staying in sexless marriages, wondering what’s wrong with them or why they get sick or depressed.
It can be totally demoralizing and hurtful for both men and women to feel rejected and unwanted, or that their needs are not normal or appreciated. Or another way of looking at the issue at the heart of things is that too many people are not communicating to their partners about their true desires and needs.
One of the most interesting set of scenes from the Golden Globe-winning television show The Affair starts with a husband and wife having sex. The husband asks the wife to look into his eyes; she laughs, but can’t do it. Later, his lover (also married) tells a friend about a moment when he looked into her eyes—in that moment, she felt truly seen for the first time in her life. We all want to be seen. In fact, the act of "gazing" into each other’s eyes is a proven technique for building intimacy.
I know, it can be hard—especially if those wishes aren’t mainstream or what you think everyone else is doing. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my studies, it’s that there is not much that isn’t "normal," and maybe that’s all right.
Look, it’s awkward for everyone. But it’s time for all of us to start talking about it. If you can discuss the new trend in kombucha, you can talk about your sexual desires. It’s also time for us to realize that the true hunger isn’t for food or even sex, but for deep connections and intimacy that only lovers can share. And that, my friends, is the most delicious soul food of all.
Maria Rodale is the CEO of Rodale Inc., blogger, mom of three and organic lifestyle maven who wrote the following excerpted post, titled "Sex Not Food". You can learn more about Maria and Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen at www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.