Sex and the Psychological City; A Relationship Blog on Sex, Friendship, Intimacy and Love
If you have read the earlier posts, you are familiar with my confession that I was a hipper psychotherapist when my go-to girlfriends -- Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha were on the air, with fresh new material on everything from masturbation to marriage. Granted, their wardrobes and lifestyles were totally unrealistic, but the fashion and fabulousness worked well as a delivery platform for groundbreaking discussions about sex, commitment, friendship and love.
Since I specialize in relationships and intimacy, the show became an ideal co-therapist that I've brought into the therapy session whenever appropriate. A lot has changed since the show first aired in 1998 -- try to imagine a dating world void of blackberries, iphones, texting and Facebook! And yet, it is shocking to watch early episdoes and realize that the core issues remain the same. In honor of the show, I am taking a trip down Memory Lane that considers each first season episode, from a psychological perspective.
The classic SATC episode titled "Valley of the Twenty Something Guys" opens with a shot of Carrie's computer as she types "Once Upon a Time..." and the deep, dark vertical lines running down her white screen instantly place her in the technological dark ages. Remember those awful lines?
We soon learn that, while Carrie keeps running into Mr. Big everywhere she goes, he remains illusive and impossible to pin down. Carrie sums up her early, frustrating flirtation with Big by proclaiming:
Men in their forties are like the NYTimes crossword puzzle: tricky, complicated, and you're never really sure you got the right answer.
Miranda then laments:
There are no available men in their thirties in New York; Giuliani had them removed with the homeless.
For diversion, Carrie begins hanging out with twenty something Sam, the tongue-pierced "really good kisser guy" who helps Carrie to re-visit the long-lost thrill of making out for hours. Likewise, Miranda continues dating Carrie's twenty-something friend, Skipper, who is as earnest and eager as a lost puppy. And Samantha has lots of hot sex with the hottest chef in the City, twenty-something Jon. Jon is so quintessentially cool that he does not even have a last name.
While the passion and partying she experiences with Sam are thrilling, Carrie worries for herself and her friends. Is their recreational use of twenty-something guys dangerous? She asks with anxiety:
Are we getting into something we can't handle?
She equates the rush of hanging with a younger man to a new form of intoxication, and wonders:
Are men in their twenties the new designer drug?
How intriguing that an episode so technologically dated can simultaneously be so ahead of its time in predicting the Cougar trend so prevalent today. Appearing incredibly last-millennium, Carrie uses a complimentary telephone in a night club to check her home answering machine to try to figure out whether the elusive Mr. Big will be joining her. Then, after a hot night out with twenty-something Sam, Carrie searches for her dated and trashy "morning malboro light" and Samantha telephones. Carrie is eager to gossip about her marathon make-out session using her cordless, land-line phone that is basically the size of a loaf of bread! Meanwhile, Samantha bursts with glee about her multiple sexual positions from the night before while cradling a gold-trimmed land-line phone with a SPIRAL CORD!
These go-to girlfriends may be living among technological dinosaurs, but they are way ahead of the curve, as they tap into one of today's most current and interesting dating trends: younger men with older women. Today, Cougars are everywhere. Consider Courney Cox's television series, Cougar Town, and Mark Penn's best-selling book, Microtrends, in which he sites the roughly three million Cougars in the U.S. as one of the most significant trends currently impacting dating and marriage.
Is dating a younger man right for you?
For the most part, age is just a number. What matters much more is a compatible level of psychological maturity. By psychological maturity, I am referring to the emotional age rather than the biological one.
More and more women are getting graduate degrees, building successful careers, and marrying later, or not at all. Also, single motherhood and sperm donors are becoming increasingly frequent. In other words, women are less likely to need a man to take care of them, and the rules of age-appropriate dating have probably changed forever. If a potential partner is suitable and you are compatible in all other areas, why should age be an obstacle?
If you are contemplating a committed relationship with a much younger man who is kind, available and shares your interests, values, and level of psychological maturity, then life in Cougar Town might just work for you.
If you are with a younger guy just to have some fun, then the question of his maturity may not matter as much, at least initially. But, before you get in too deep, be sure to check out his living quarters. Does his home share some of the qualities of twenty-something Sam's?
If you discover a shortage of coffee filters, a surplus of used pizza boxes, candles from Urban Outfitters, a graffiti-filled bathroom lacking toilet paper, and a hung-over roommate, ask yourself how comfortable you will be spending time in his world. Be honest: at this stage in your life can you comfortably wake up surrounded by pizza boxes? It took Carrie just one morning without coffee filters and one pee without toilet paper to realize that the twenty-something designer drug was not her style.
Whether or not dating a younger guy works for you, consider Carrie's closing thoughts on the topic:
Maybe all men are a drug and sometimes they bring you down. But sometimes, they get you so high.
Check in for the next post as Carrie struggles with the relationship between sex and money and asks: "Where's the line between professional girlfriend and just plain professional?"