Emily Conyngham

Emily Conyngham
Homey Airport, Nevada,
December 31
I Enjoy It
I couldn't make this stuff up! © Emily Conyngham All Rights Reserved


JUNE 10, 2013 3:53PM

Eros in the Twenty-first Century

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What odd encounters I had in my two days in the online dating world this past week. They prompted me to quicky hop back off the internet and also to re-visit  and amend this idea I wrote about last summer.

In the message right after he introduced himself, one suitor provided me with a link to a porn site to  ascertain  my proclivities before he wasted any more time talking to me.

Another candidate listed his No-Nos on his profile: no abbreviations like LOL and no emoticons. In my usual friendly manner, I remarked that I agreed about abbreviations. However, I inserted a smiley emoticon by accident...uh oh. When he said I had broken his rules of engagement, I responded he was shrinking his universe of slatherees ( he apparently likes to slather women in attention). He retorted, "No wonder you don't  have a date on Friday night or have pen pals who speak English." This made me wonder  if he'd been posing as a 21 year old Ukranian who was simultaneously  expressing great love for me. It was two personas too much for me.

I  decided I no longer wanted to approach meeting men this way. With  my recent divorce, I started thinking about Nora Ephron's takes on technology and romance in her scripts from You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle and When Harry Met Sally. Love is perennially challenging and rewarding, but does technology change the way we relate to one another? 

You would think at my age I would be a little more street smart, but I’m new out here  and have only a few observations on  the internet, porn, long-distance arousal and relationships. I decided to I look at some numbers and now I have some questions.  I’m curious what you make of these issues.


Porn.    First, the HUGE numbers:

  • 25% of search queries are related to porn.
  • 12% of websites are related to porn
  • The global porn industry is worth nearly $5 billion.
  • Every SECOND in the US $3,075.64 is spent on porn; that’s more than major league sports or Hollywood can pull in.
  • One out of three viewers is female. How DO they know that??
  • The top 10 porn search queries are variations on the following: Youth (13.5%), Gay (4.7%), MILFs (4.3%), Breasts (4%), Cheating wives (3.4%),Vaginas (2.8%),Penises (2.4%),Butts (.9%), Cheerleaders (.1%)


It’s everywhere and most of you have checked it out; the costs are minimal, and it satisfies immediate hunger, like junk food.  The thrill is short-lived but can be addicting.You won’t get diseases from watching porn. Porn might seem to be extreme exhibitionism, but in fact, the viewer reveals nothing of himself, so it is a covert means to find gratification. It requires nothing of the viewer. It separates “people” from the act.  I wonder if all this porn is making us passive or lazy.  

Some questions I'm hoping you will address: 

  • Do you increasingly want sex fed to you, as opposed to “working” for it? 
  • Is it difficult for you to get hot without having your favorite flavor in front of you? 
  • Do you find yourself using language you’ve heard in porn in your own sexual activity? 
  • Do you sometimes choose porn over the real thing?


Sexy Emails and Sexting.  The publisher Harlequin polled women ages 18-40 in their 2012 Romance Study and found that 43% of them had engaged in “sexy” texting or emailing. Ah, the power of words.  This form of communication requires some kind of relationship with your correspondent, no matter how limited, fabricated or artificial. So, on the spectrum of exposure I 'm exploring in this post, this form of arousal takes up the middle ground. No physical hazards, but some interactivity.

My questions, in the abstract, of course, are: 

  • Do you think “some people” have a words-only erotic relationship in their lives?
  • Do you think  "those people" who do this know their correspondent(s) personally?
  • Do you think “sexy writers” would have real sex with their correspondent?

Finally, we arrive at that uncertain end of the spectrum of exposure: relationships, when Harry Meets Sally.

First, some numbers from Pew Research:

  • Only 51% of adults in the USA are married.
  • The never-married rate has increased to 28%.
  • The proportion of adults who are divorced or separated  has held steady at about 14%.

So, a lot of you are navigating relationships other than the married kind. There you are, having to meet and reveal yourselves to someone other than a spouse.   The online dating industry has become part of the fabric of single life.  The ranks of Singles Meetup groups are swelling.  Nightlife thumps in every city. My observation from a small sampling universe has been that a lot of brave people ARE willing to step away from their screens, to tiptoe, stumble and dance with each other. Can you hear me clapping? Hang on a minute, I have a few more questions.

  • What do you most enjoy about being single? What do you hate?
  • What aspects of meeting and dating make you most nervous?
  • Do you think some of these single people want to be in long-term relationships?
  • How do you feel about being single in old age?

I look forward to hearing what you have to say on this subject of Eros in the twenty-first century,  and what you think of using technology in the erotic life.









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The internet in your love life, what do you think? What do you actually do?
If you think I'm crazy or egotistical enough to answer any of your questions ...

I'm special -- or at least that's the conclusion I draw from being among the .1% who query "cheerleaders" on porn sites :-).

For the record, I prefer to slather a woman in chocolate, on the belief that if it ain't chocolate, it ain't desert.

Call me old-fashioned, but I think sex should be confined to the bed room -- or if not, at least to the back seat.

And last but not least, even Erica Jong came to realize there is no such thing as a zipless fuck.
As far as being single in old age, it's a reality; even if you've been with someone for many years, one of you will go first. And there are so many others in the same situation. It seems that women have an easier time being alone, and a propensity for making friends. When you're older you get less patient about living with others' new quirks and shortcomings. I think a pet is a perfect companion, and family is wonderful, and friends are great. Romantic friends? If I am alone eventually I assume they will not be a need for me.
You are special, clearly, Tom. I guess that means more choco-cheerleaders in the backseat for you.

Great perspective, Lea. I always appreciate your views on things. Thanks for opining here.
I have friends who have met their husbands from match.com, and they are just good normal guys. I have had some okay relationships from there, some weirdos, some jerks, some people who are "shopping" instead of trying to relate to another human being. We all have our requirements, and for most men looking for a relationship, sex is a requirement/high priority. If they aren't at all, that is probably more of a red flag than not.
Eros is sexual, not agape which is spiritual, love. However, many people use online services the way they use concierge services or Amazon- as an egocentric way to provide their desires. Amazingly, most men (in that I read male profiles, not female) are usually pretty straightforward about their demands, their control habits, and their no-no's.
My sweetie of the last 5 years I met at a party, and has many of my "wouldn't have dated him if I met him on match" qualities that I now realize didn't matter. It took me a while to see them though, much longer amount of time than dating provides, it was when we were friends that I saw them.
If this were multiple choice I'd answer "All of the above." I've discovered that love, sex and relationships all vary from person to person and age to age. Back when I had a hard body and was full of testosterone, I had an entirely different take on how to go about fulfilling my emotional and sexual appetites. Now that I'm of an age and spectrum of experience that enables me to have some perspective on that dynamic, I'd say that rather than passion, I'd be inclined to vote for comfort... a great orgasm is a good thing and I've experienced more than my share, but a good laugh and a good day with another person is for me nearly as rewarding. Still I wouldn't be inclined to pass up the chance for a good orgasm either. I may be old but I ain't dead. R&R ;-)
OB, Absolutely. Excellent points. I am indeed talking about eros, and wondering how the internet is changing the way we fulfill those erotic desires.

jmac, ah, yes. Our focus changes over time, for sure. It kinda ties in with what OB is saying, that certain things which appear objectionable in little check boxes may not be such a big deal once you get to know someone, but that takes a lot of days of hanging around together. Those are good days. I'm wondering whether availability of answers, say, about sexual preferences, might actually diminish arousal.
Regarding eros, Japanese investigators were wondering what accounted for a sharp decline in STD's among young Japanese males; they concluded it was a result of their liaisons -- so to speak -- with two-dimensional girl friends. 'Tis a brave new world indeed.
Wow....Tom, that is truly a bizaare phenomenon. And absolutely emblematic of the digitizing of desire.
I haven't tried on line dating services.
You gave me an idea. Invite to jacuzzi.
We read ` Jane Austen's book in there:
Sense and
We'll discuss:
Elinor and Sister
Marianne Dashwood
and overcome pessimism,
and eat sweet snap peas,
and organic carrots and
nibble on garlic scapes.
That's what I call good,
while waiting for Eros.
Too many questions, lol.

I never liked the meet and greet, get to know a person phase, it's usually painful because you start with the expectation of failure. Online dating, while upping the pain factor when you meet men like you did, can be successful if you just keep plugging along, but not lowering your standards. And if it doesn't feel right for you, stop.

Of course you know Steve and I met on line, both of us slightly worse for wear when we met, but now its bliss. It will be a forever thing, but of course somebody has to die first.

I first dated on line in 2005 (I divorced in '98) on yahoo personals and met some quality guys. I think if you use a free service, you have to expect a far number of weirdos, spend the 15 or 20 a month and use a pay site.
Way too much fun.
Just call 9-11 operator.
Ask if she likes jacuzzis.

Hey, torrito, um, the hairless thing is another de-humanizing factor, isn't it? It always ends up looking like turkey skin, you know, the part that didn't get browned and just looks grey and pimply. Rubber dolls, that's a great line. Thanks for coming around; you know I really like it.

Art, you a classic man, clearly. Hot tubs, and organic snow peas, waiting for Eros...old school, slow style. Nice. Thanks.

Asia...your honesty and forthrightness (not sure that is a word. If it is, it is inelegant as hell) and specific tips are musch appreciated. I like a girl who knows exactly what she is talking about. Thank you.

Art, now you just try to keep all that organic fun in check over there. ha.
First of all, who's compiling all those statistics? And my next question would be, can whomever's compiling them also name the individuals who're looking at all that online porn? And what else can they find out about us? Sorry but I'm more paranoid than usual lately, esp. after just having read Kate O'Hehir's post and semi-following the Bradley Manning & Edward Snowden stories.

But this could be a magazine article, as relevant and well-written as it is. A series, actually. I even have a title if you need one - The Look of (Online) Love.

Re. your questions - I wouldn't answer them here. I use my name after all -wouldn't want anything coming back to haunt me! But generally speaking, I will say the search for love or finding a meaningful relationship, is almost a primal need. The desire to connect with someone else drives us to do all kinds of things. No wonder the internet is such fertile ground - it's so easy; there's so little work and also risk, involved. And you can be someone else if you so choose. There are all kinds of possibilities out there and if I were younger I might even embrace some of them. But my stuck in the past, old-fashioned mindset gets in the way and I have a title for people like me, for an article or post that sums it up: No Country For Women of A Certain Age.
I'm disappointed that the favorite porn searches didn't include "midgets in custard."

Forget "You've Got Mail." See the original story "Shop Around the Corner."

As for sexting and titillating emails, I leave you with these lines from "Double Indemnity" --

Walter Neff: You'll be here too?

Phyllis: I guess so, I usually am.

Walter Neff: Same chair, same perfume, same anklet?

Phyllis: I wonder if I know what you mean.

Walter Neff: I wonder if you wonder.
I was thinking last night how this relates to the Snowden and Manning stories too, Margaret. Online sex may not be as a private or anonymous as one thinks. I will have to check out Kate's post. No Country for Women of a Certain Age...brilliant! I am going to ask you to provide title for me in the future. Thanks for the compliment too.

Stim _ I don't know that movie you mention. I'll check it out. Midgets in custard...I wonder what the NSA dweebs sitting in some dark room plowing through your search phrases think of that one! hee hee. Thanks for coming by.
I think you used the internet dating scene for exactly its best purpose; to weed out a few undesirables. Do not think of it as "attracting weirdos". Think of it as giving you a window into the weirdness of some people; often a kind and degree of weirdness that you might otherwise not find out about until a relationship was well developed.

The net doesn't create the person of your dreams. All it is is a tool. A search tool. You can cover more ground in a few hours on the net than you personally could in a lifetime. And, with judicious questioning, you can find out things that people hide in face to face encounters until you're already intimate.

As to old people. I'se one'a them. I love having friends; I want no intimacy. I'm content to be alone although I do wish my wife were still alive. I'm definitely not prepared to make the necessary adjustments in my life to be with another companion.

As to young people who prefer a lack of pubic hair, I can't blame them. I too always liked a plucked chicken - it's cute. And one never sneezes because an unruly hair tickled one's nose. But a full Brazilian should only be done by a professional - shaving leaves tiny bumps that look awful. ;-)

I'm going to have to chew on your questions for a while, but I promise I'll get back to you !
Hi, Sky. You know, you have a point there. I was thinking the expediting of the "getting to know you" phase was taking out all the pleasurable build-up of interest. Instead, I suppose the best use of it *is* to weed out ones you'd never be interested in, to make the universe smaller. There is something about data-driven dating though that I can't quite bend to right now.

Desert Rat - chew away. That sounds funny, doesn't it? Thanks for coming by.
very interesting statistics that make me glad I'm married and not looking - that's for the braver then I.
I haven't even read 50 shades of grey.