Surprises are great.
I’m an absolute sucker for them. I mean, I was raised by a mother who obsessed over them. Each year, she’d try to find a way to make a surprise for my birthday that I didn’t expect. At that age, I was already pretty good at “reading” faces — so I’d quickly understand that she was hiding something. But I kept it to myself, because I understood intuitively that the pleasure was also hers to experience.
As an adult, I understood that idea in a practical way — while I’m awful at keeping secrets, the joy I felt when I got to give something unexpected was always very gratifying. Perhaps this was also because I had been raised within a “surprise culture”, who knows.
But while I love surprises, as they make me feel very cared for — I found myself doubting my need for surprises within relationships.
A few weeks ago, someone asked me to describe the safest I had ever felt with a man. I decided to list out the characteristics of how that person made me feel — and then apply those things to myself, since I should treat myself the way I expect others to treat me. One of the main things I listed first was ‘acknowledgment’.
You see, the safest I’ve ever felt was with a man who acknowledged my every word, every feeling, and every thought as though it was both lovable and sacred. I could send twenty useless texts and he would even reply to the emojis. I could feel jealous, or ashamed, or any of these emotions that we often want to hide — and he would accept these feelings as being valid (even if he didn’t agree with the source of those feelings). I could speak about what was on my mind, and if he was able to absorb, no thought was too silly or too strange to share.
As I created this list for the purpose of my self-love, I found my mind wandering, as I thought about how these qualities would apply to sex.
I suddenly realized that my adoration of surprises translates differently in the bedroom. Now, I’m not speaking about the occasional thoughtful surprise — surprises are great, and still make me feel absolutely special and adored. I should also add that I am speaking from a cishet perspective — so perhaps your experience may differ from mine.
But here’s what I believe: a man who focuses on consistent and constant surprises in (and out of) the bedroom, is a man who would make me very unhappy, indeed.
Well, I’ll try to break it down for you in a way that makes sense outside my head (I struggle with that sometimes).
A man who surprises me constantly would need to have an air of mystery to him. It would be difficult to constantly surprise me within a relationship if we had a bond with complete openness and transparency. Of course, a surprise for a special occasion would work, but if a man was able to constantly surprise me with bigger and greater feats, I would wonder whether he was trying to distract me from who he is, by creating ways for a relationship to be interesting.
A relationship can be exciting all by itself — without constant surprises and prior secrets. How much of that effort spent on surprises, could’ve been used on simply connecting with me in an honest and open manner? To me, that’s the height of excitement: seeing someone naked, as they are, without extras.
In the bedroom, I find it a more obviously ominous trait. After all, would you prefer a partner who constantly shared tricks with you, designed to exclaim, “Oh WOW, look at you GO, you absolute BEAST!”? Or a partner who takes their time understanding every moan, every gasp, and every change in breath — and then applying small changes to their behaviour in response?
When a partner is “good in bed” the first time, is that because they are truly that wonderful, or because they have had to build up a few tricks to make up for the lack of intimacy they tend to showcase?
When a potential partner is charming and perfect, is this because they match you, or because they’ve spent time learning how to match people — to avoid truly connecting with others (and themselves)?
Neither of these questions has a concrete yes or no. But they are questions that deserve to be asked.