I liked the way she looked and wanted to take care of her. I thought that’s what being in love was.
An interview with Clive.
Clive | Age: 80 | Location: London, UK | Born: UK | Occupation: Composer | No. of sexual partners: 28
Why did you take part?
I’m interested in relationships and in the sexual creative physical energy.
What events in your life shaped your sexuality? What’s your story?
I would say my nature as a sexual being was formed in my infancy and early childhood. I’m using sexual in a broad sense of being close to another person. Growing up I sometimes thought that although my mother was perfectly good as a mother, she was not very affectionate. I can remember that by the age of 7 or 8 I was interested in having relationships with much older girls and I think I was like that because there was something that I wasn’t having from my mother. Sexual is a kind of a questionable word to use when it comes to these desires. I can’t think of a better word but maybe it’s connection. Physical connection.
When I was 8 years old I had an experience of being so profoundly present I was awestruck. My father thought I was having a nightmare but I wasn’t. All I could say is ‘I am here’. Having had that experience before puberty has been important in my life. I never forgot it. For a while afterwards maybe 2 years I used to occasionally to sit in a tree, up the top. It had a kind of a window out across the valley. I used to say over to myself ‘I am here’ until the feeling of being present returned. I used to think that those who were brilliant at school were in that state all the time.
Once somebody gave me a book that was really important to me. “How to know god” by Patanjali. I always imagined that various other things could bring me close to god but the first time I felt close was when I had really nice orgasm with somebody. I went to art school and got hung up on dope and pseudo-meditating. I felt confused sexually. I had one really awakening relationship before I was married with a woman who was about the same age as me but she had been separated. Very tactile, very undemanding, and kind. I think I didn’t actually appreciate her at the time. I think I was anxious about sex but it didn’t seem to matter to her. I think there had been an anxiety about sex at home growing up. It was avoided as a subject of conversation. It wasn’t talked about except as things that could go wrong - like starting a pregnancy when it wasn’t intended. Sex just doesn’t work if one person is anxious. I would say that anxieties are very usual causes of premature ejaculations; it also has its effects on a woman. A woman needs to feel safe before anything happens. Anxiety and sex just don’t work really.
I had another serious relationship then, with another art student. She was very attractive and a fantastic painter. I learned this about relationship with women - superficial attraction is really superficial. What really makes a relationship dynamic for me is if there is something I admire about the other person. It can be almost envy. It’s actually a yearning of something I want for myself. I’ve been attracted to women who can ride horses. I find a woman who can handle a horse really attractive. I’m never going to have the time or the body to ride a horse. The attraction is nothing to do with them but something that projects back to what my desires are for myself. We got pregnant and I really didn’t handle it well. I really didn’t want to get married and be a father right as I was getting into art school. She wrote me off. Had a termination. I was still attracted to her. She remained a ghost in my other relationships to an extent.
I met my wife at art school. I didn’t really wholeheartedly choose to get married. What happened was that my ex-wife lived quite close to London but it was a drag to travel. We were nearly living together. Her parents found out and they didn’t let her live away from home anymore. We decided to get married and lived together very happily. It was a stressful marriage. About 30 years later I went to co-dependents anonymous. I was really a serious co-depenent. I think it’s like a disease that humans being have naturally. It just spreads in families. It’s very hard and unusual for a family to be wise enough for everyone to grow into their own person. People don’t have boundaries about who they are and what they need to do. My wife when I first met her was in a really bad state, had some really bad experiences. She was drinking quite a lot already as a teenager. I liked the way she looked and wanted to take care of her. I thought that’s what being in love was. I think it still is that for a lot of people. She couldn’t understand some things that were important to me, like being present. One of the reasons why she was attracted to me is because I had something she wanted to understand but couldn’t. Eventually I realised we didn’t have enough in common. A sense of life needs to be shared in a relationship. Perhaps people with different beliefs can have a relationship but with us it didn’t work. The important times are the stressful ones in a relationship. Unless the basic understanding of what life is and what is important is agreed, you’re going to run into it all the time, especially in times of conflict. There was a place where we didn’t go from the start. Stuff about god. It felt limiting. Nevertheless we were married and together for about 20 years. Not sure it’s right to be proud of this or not but I was faithful to her even though she was very often jealous - I had quite a few serious propositions. I used to go away to work to teach painting and drawing at a country art school. I used to stay a night or two there every week. I wouldn’t have had to try to be unfaithful.
Our best time was when we were trying to have babies. When you want to have a baby sex is really special, it’s really nice committed sex. I’m not sure but maybe my wife went into depression after the second child and she maybe never came out of that. She then wanted to have more children but I didn’t. For the last few years it was sexless and I was just waiting for our children to grow up. Then the shit started hitting the fan. Apparently one test for a marriage is once children become sexually active. Then 3 of our parents died in a short succession. I think it made my wife drink a bit more. It made me smoke a bit more dope. Also I was away of home a bit more, in a succession of bands playing music. I was very busy. We just became further and further apart. We stopped relating sexually. My elder daughter was pregnant, my wife had an affair and she wanted me to move out so that her lover could live in the house. She went to live in a squat with a junkie leaving me with my daughter expecting at 17 and another one confused and hurt. We got divorced. I have a brilliant relationship with my daughters these days. My ex wife is still a bit of a problem - she never stopped drinking.
I haven’t had a relationship for the last 12 years now. I think I’ve become very difficult to have a relationship with now. I have a terminal disease. I’m happier if I do everyday what I would like to do. There are some kinds of things that I still want to do with music. I now claim the right to do that since I don’t know how much longer I’ll be around. I have lots of women friends. The last few years 3 or 4 women friends who I’m quite close to. I enjoy their company much more than I enjoy men. I had enough of men in the navy.
What were the aha moments in your sexual journey?
I was giving myself away for most of my life. That’s maybe why I haven’t had a relationship for the last 10 years. I learned not to give myself away in a relationship. Staying with what I want and need. I don’t mind someone being angry but it needs to be processed. I cannot tolerate people who get lost in a black mood and it never gets processed. I don’t want to live with it.
What does sex mean to you?
It’s a very pleasurable experience but at the level of the brain it’s possible to have similar pleasure with meditation. That moment after orgasm is a love of being and that is what meditation is about. A really deep sense that being alive is OK.
What’s difficult about sex?
I like to know there is no anxiety there at least. I think trust is very important in any kind of a relationship, but especially in sexual ones. I would never ignore somebody’s lack of trust or try to change it. If you don’t have trust then it’s difficult afterwards. If i imagine it being difficult afterwards, I’d prefer not to have it. I would not like to have sex with someone I have no interest in.
What do you most enjoy about sex?
I think I enjoy something that’s very short lived and actually happens after sex. A feeling of not only mental wellbeing but also physical wellbeing in very special relaxed euphoria.
How often do you have sex?
I haven't had sex for the last decade I'd say.
Do you masturbate?
Less these days. Rarely more than once a fortnight now.
What specific things (e.g. techniques) have you found, alone and with partners, that have led to more pleasure in your sex life?
Can’t think of anything unusual. My 2nd partner was very tactile and I enjoyed that. I like being close to someone. Just the feeling of hugging another body is great.
How do you see sexuality portrayed in the society and how does it make you feel?
Capitalism has got its own energy to survive - 3% expansion per annum or die. Everything has become enmeshed in that. Sexuality has become a commodity. A drug. People hooked on sex, eg. porn.
What’s your advice to men?
Try to learn to stop trying to control situations. Step away from being goal-oriented. From being a prophet. How many women they’ve had. So many prophets. So disturbing. It needs to be left behind. It causes people to undermine one another. Gaining something from another person rather than just giving. I just wanna come. It’s very masculine to me. My ex-mentor is an example of a man pushing.
What’s your advice would you give based on your experiences?
Just be here and now and speak the truth, even if you’re scared, especially if you’re scared.
Is there anything you want to explore?