Welcome back to Sex and the Psychological City!
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. 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.
Episode six, titled Secret Sex, opens with Carrie posing for a promotional photo for her column. The photo is scheduled to post on the side of a crosstown bus. While she feels self-conscious about her provocative pose and her skimpy outfit, her conflicts are abated when she learns that she can keep the skin colored, low cut, backless mini dress used in the shoot. To celebrate, she decides to wear her new frock on her first official date with Big. While hanging with her girlfriends and trying to summon pre-date moral support, Miranda calls the dress "tits on toast" and the group nicknames it the "naked dress." When Big meets her at his limo, all he can say is "nice dress." The dress leads to unrestrained passion, both in the limo and at Big's bachelor pad. Afterwards, they follow "great sex" by going out for "greasy chinese" at a local Sechuan dive. Carrie is enjoying herself but grows perplexed when she notices her buddy Mike in the restaurant and Mike fails to introduce her to his date, Libby. Carrie follows up with Mike the next day, and he acknowledges that, although Libby is "smart, sweet" and "the best sex in my life," he is embarrassed to be seen with her. He also admits that what he likes about the Sechuan restaurant selection is the low likelihood of running into others. He then apologizes, realizing that this analysis may shed light on Big's true intentions or lack thereof. When Big later fails to introduce Carrie to his skiing buddy in the street, and he brings her back to the same restaurant for date number two AND he declines her invitation to come out to a local bus stop and celebrate her bus photo with her friends, Carrie wonders:
How many of us are having great sex with someone we don't want to introduce to our friends?
Later, Charlotte admits to a secret fling with a hassidic folk artist in Brooklyn, and Samantha reminds her girlfriends that you can have great sex with someone you do not like, respect or even remember. Carrie continues to stress about her status with Big and asks herself:
Is secret sex the ultimate form of intimacy, or just a way to compartmentalize our lives?