Learning Lover Play

It’s summer,  the whole world is in bloom, and we’re all wearing as little as possible. Could there be a more delicious time to to deepen your frolic in the lover playspace? 

The inimitable Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate, in his first guest blog, explores the nuances of the lover journey from less fun to so much deep lover yum


Don is a dancer and a lover. He lives and plays in New Hampshire with his family. 

He is the go to man for silly puddy, manly jokes about lady feet and the sweetest dance of your life. 

I have been involved with conscious play for about three months beginning with my first encounter with Play Nexus.  I have been involved in, what I would call semi-conscious play, for much longer.  By semi-conscious, I mean that I liked to play, thought about the benefits of being playful, and engaged regularly in playful practices.  What I didn’t do, was take the concept of play into the scary or difficult places.  Play or playfulness was an add-on or an aspect, a costume if you will.  I would use it occasionally to relieve tension or stress, but I never played with the tension and the stress.  I would use it as an escape from difficult emotions, but I never played with my difficult emotions.  I would use it to attract a lover, but I had never played with love.

Part of this realization came from a game called the play map.  With colorful pens and markers and a big piece of paper, we began creating a map of our primary playgrounds, or the places in our life where we wanted to play.  I found it easy to come up with a number of areas in my life where I feel really playful; giving gifts a real playground for me, and generosity in general is an active and conscious playground (though it was here that I began thinking of it as a playground).  My work was an area where I felt I needed to be more playful.  So I had maybe six or seven playgrounds on my map at the end.  When sharing our playgrounds, I realized a vital area I had left out, love and sex.  I had friendship on my map, my children were there, my community, but not the most vital and potentially rewarding area of my life.  It was eye opening to me that I had not even thought to put that on the map, and I definitely had time, I was searching my mind for other playgrounds during the exercise, but this area never emerged until I saw it on everyone else’s list.

What did that mean?  I realized that I viewed intimacy as work; hard work; often unpleasant work; serious work.  I have often split my relationships apart by separating friendship from intimacy.  “We are great friends” I would say, “but we struggle with intimacy”.  Or I would say “We have a great friendship and we also have a lot of passion”.  The difference, the reason for the split,  was that while I had learned to be playful around friendship, intimacy and sex were difficult and required, I thought, a different kind of attention.  Why so difficult?  I had a lot of fear; fear of inadequacy, of doing the wrong thing, of being too strong, of being too weak, of hurting, of not pleasing.  I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing, and didn’t know how to learn.  So I separated those areas where I felt proficient, confident and playful, from those which required work to overcome my fears …

It was in the context of my realization that I was not playful in this essential aspect of my life, that I remembered the way that children play.  Children naturally practice the everyday things in life through their play.  They play house, they play mommy and daddy, they play at building and relating and living and dying.  They learn softer skills as well, like how to share and correct and own their own imagination and learn from each other.  Everyone understands that play is a vital, essential part of childhood development.  Somewhere, we lose that idea that, even though we are still learning, that play is our best tool for learning.  How that is lost is another discussion, but I think it is safe to say that, as a culture, we separate out those things that are work, and those things that are play; and we generally treat the things we view as most vital, most important to survival, as work; including our love relationships.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that a relationship is a lot of work.  What I am realizing is that relationships should be  lot of play.

The work ethic is deeply instilled in me through culture and family.  I often approach new things with the desire to work hard and master something, all with the hope that when I am proficient, I will be able to be relaxed, playful, and creative; as though playfulness and creativity are hard earned rights.  Needless to say, that approach rarely works.  Even when it appears to work, as it did when I was learning dance or database programming, it was because I was deeply in love with what I was doing, and with what I was learning.  These areas never felt like work because I took so much joy in them that I was naturally playing.

Realizing this really begged the questions: Do I love loving?  Do I love sex?  Do I love intimacy?  

The answer was that I wanted to love these things, but I had become so bogged down in my fears and my attempts to work my way to proficiency.

The answer to the real question, of how then do I fall in love with loving and intimacy and sex, is to play.  Like children play, I realized my way forward was to play with love and intimacy and sex.  In this context, play is not about form, but about attitude, it is about the approach to your lover.  Play is about experimenting emotionally, being willing to make a mistake, to do the wrong thing, to learn and grow, to say what you really think and feel and want.  Play is about coming in with the skills you have and enjoying the process of developing new skills and pathways and spaces.  Playfulness makes it easier to open, easier to try, easier to learn.  Play opens the doors of creativity and expression.  Play allows for differences, for rules and for rule changes, for creating new games and new roles and newness in general.

I have a new island on my play map; lover island.  It is largely unexplored.  I know there are high places and deep places to explore, and I am excited to engage in that exploration, to play and dance my way over this terrain.  I am falling in love with love itself, with intimacy and sex, and falling very deeply in love with my playful lover.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *