Growing up, you come to learn that you’re not the center of the world — that the people who love you also have other concerns. But eros is primitive, and your erotic mind is a poor student. It remains fixated on an image of pure, absolute attention from an adoring other. The power of that image remains undiminished as erotic fantasy throughout your life.
In my neighborhood in New York City, it’s not fashionable to read Twilight. But as a sex therapist, I felt I needed to — and I was glad I did. It’s erotic fantasy that works. That’s why it’s such a huge hit.
For those of you who haven’t read it or seen the movie series, Twilight is the story of a young teenage woman, Bella, who falls in love with her fiendishly handsome biology lab partner Edward. Along the way she discovers that he is a vampire, and that he loves her at least as much as she loves him – in the same all-consuming, obsessional fashion. It’s romance in a grand style.
In an earlier blog, “Twilight and the Art of Foreplay,” I discussed how Edward’s capacity to give Bella his absolute focused attention is so fascinating because in the average heterosexual woman’s experience of men it is so rare. Women typically give much more attention to their men than they get in return. One married woman I know had to stop reading Twilight because it was too painful to reflect on the absence of an Edward in her life.
Edward’s attention to Bella is absolute – once he meets her, she becomes his entire world – his only concern in life. In reality, the only time an actual woman can savor that kind of attention from her male partner is during really good foreplay. Which, I would argue, is why foreplay is so important.
Twilight is really good foreplay. But in the middle of the narrative, soon after the start of volume 2, New Moon, all this good foreplay is interrupted. Edward mysteriously vanishes, Bella suffers a severe depression (lesson there: don’t stop good foreplay), and she finds a rescuer of sorts in Jacob, a young Native American boy.
Like Edward before him, Jacob becomes entirely obsessed with Bella – in the same all-consuming, obsessional fashion. Throughout New Moon and the subsequent Eclipse, Bella is the focal point of these two men’s laser-like attention. Such extravagance of attention from not one but two partners.
Neither man has any need for golf, video games, Monday Night Football, or simply time off by himself. Neither Jacob nor Edward can tear himself away from the Bella channel — where it’s all Bella, all the time.
Never mind that in reality all this attention would eventually become irritating. As fantasy, it hits the spot.