desire and empathy

It's weird at the gym. I feel like I start every post like that. The design of the pool is really sensual: feminine curves define the walls and heated loungers, dim late night lighting, and a beach mural holds an implicit promise of holiday romance. The steam room is hot dark and steamy with flickering star like lights. Couples often seem to be getting a bit too frisky. I'm used to boisterous middle aged hens perving over me. I'm not used to beautiful girls in their 20s looking at me with naked desire. And especially awkward is girls doing that when they're with their partner: I'm good looking but not ruin-your-relationship good looking.

There's discomfort in saying this: me from 15 years ago would've killed for some attention. we all seem to pretend we don't know how attractive we are, and we ignore that we're basically in heat all the time.

Teenage me would not believe that I'm complaining about this. But then I was emaciated, had big glasses, wasn't allowed a decent haircut, and had hand me down jumpers. I was literally told I was ugly and it took a long time to realise that I'm not.

So fuck it, I'm gonna complain. I go there to relax not to be aroused, and its annoying. I'm in a long term monogamous relationship and I'm just not interested in girls in their early 20s. So often someone will take off their robe and reveal a skimpy bikini and a perfect body - that intimacy of taking clothes off. And then look at me with big eyes and barely masked desire, or shyly say hello. I try not to look, I'm getting better at not looking, I don't want to lead anyone on. I'm not used to the attention and not sure how much it's that I'm not interested, I'm more confident, or that young single girls have been locked up for a year and want some attention. Also, I'm lonely, I tend to get on better with women but I just want friendship.

Sometimes it's hard to ignore. There were some, I guess, Instagram models, taking flash photographs in the Jacuzzi the other day.. Sexualized glamour shots. Seemingly confident but then one of the girls thought she was in my way and was so shy and apologetic.

I thought this post would be more about empathy. I'm a lot more emotionally attuned than I used to be (it's the foundation of my psychotherapy practice), and I don't know how much the desire is unconscious but it's so obvious when someone isn't attracted to me.

Like yesterday a lady who looked like a goddess. I don't mean that in a good way, I mean in a Greek mythology way of too perfect, separate, different. A superhero. She was so muscly and slim and curvy but in her eyes looked like a fragile child. That sort of empathy is sometimes painful.

An old man at the bus stop earlier was bemoaning this miserable country and how people can't say what they mean to each other. I imagine I agree but in a very different way. A lady got really embarrassed last week in the steam room when she said

do you come here often

to me and then was like

I'm not coming on to you.

And then it felt like she wanted to say not that there's anything wrong with you or no offense but didn't know how to say that. It was fine but there was a taste of awkwardness left.