This is a serial about love and awakening. Previously: Billy and I make love while I’m still in a shoulder brace, and it’s the best first time I can remember. But he doesn’t cancel his dates with other women. Click here to start with Part One.

Smell. Let’s talk about smell. Some of you have been appalled – as was I – at my clutching onto a guy who was insensitive and emotionally manipulative.

Part of it was smell – the intense animal chemistry that pulled me to Billy against my judgment, my insight and reason.

I remember, decades ago, dating a man who I thought was a perfect partner for me but I couldn’t bear his smell. The natural scent his pores emitted even after a shower was, to me, sickly sweet, like something rotting. It seemed absurd to reject this extraordinary man because of his scent, but I did.

Some guys, I’ve found, are scent neutral – their smell is not pronounced or has no effect. But Billy’s was like an aphrodisiac. I would set my head against his chest and savor it as if it were perfume. It reminded me of Dorothy and her crew in the Wizard of Oz, falling under the spell of the fragrant poppies and going to sleep. That’s what happened — the wise part of me went to sleep.

* * *

On Saturday, the day after we first made love, Billy brings over dinner from my favorite restaurant. We eat quickly and hit the bed, taking breaks to talk and laugh and soak in the hot tub, all the while playing “Name that Tune.” We set my ipod to shuffle and see who can be first to name the song that starts playing. I have the advantage – it’s my friggin’ ipod — but he beats me almost every time.

We fall asleep late and he wakes me at 7 a.m., fixes coffee for himself and tea for me and brings them to bed. Making love again, I have to resist the urge to arch and roll with him. I need to keep my shoulder still, but if we stop and lie motionless, so much energy is coursing through us that it’s even more exciting.

Suddenly he looks at the clock – 9 a.m. – and starts hustling to get dressed. He says he’s sorry to run and leave the house a shambles.

“Where are you going?”

“The festival — to watch a movie.”

“With number three?”

He nods, pulling on his pants and shoes.

“Who is this one?” I ask.

“Sally Burton. Actually, she knows you.”

“She does? I’ve never heard of her.”

“She’s a marathon runner.” He kisses me. “I had a wonderful time. I’ll call you later.”

Left alone, I start straightening the bed, picking up towels and I don’t feel good. There’s pain in my chest and it’s hard to breathe. I try to be mindful: There’s pain in your body, what is that? Just observe it, breathe into it. Know that you are larger than that sensation of pain, and it will pass. But as I’m writing this blog, I can feel the pain again – it’s outsized, overwhelming, like my survival is at stake.

I meet my friend Claire for lunch and she says she understands, she just broke up with a man because he refused to be monogamous. “My experience,” she says, “is that you can only go deep with one person at a time. And no woman wants to be strung along in an extended competition.”

We’ve been studying the teachings of Adyashanti, and she reminds me of the distinction he makes between universal love – the love and sense of oneness that always resides within us—and romantic love for one person, which brings the duality of joy and suffering. I close my eyes and try to tap into that oneness and love.

We go for a hike and when I get home, there are three phone messages from Billy. I don’t answer them. Let him stew. When I don’t hear from him all evening, though, I start to get anxious. I’ve found that if I make love with a man and it’s good, I inevitably want more with him than sex. As one of my women friends says, “Once he’s penetrating me and it’s wonderful, I’m in love.”

With Billy now, there’s a powerful wish, a need, an urgency in me to cement a relationship and a strong knowing to pull the plug.

He calls at 11:30 and I’m in bed, emotionally exhausted. “I didn’t get much sleep last night,” I tell him. “Someone woke me up early.”

“I can arrange for the same guy to do that again,” he says. “Want me to come over?”



Please leave a COMMENT. What’s your experience and understanding of smell? Did Billy’s elusiveness make me want him more strongly? 

This blog is based on a true story, but I’ve changed names and identifying details to protect privacy. I’ve also, in a few cases, compressed time or altered elements to serve the narrative.The title “Sex Love Enlightenment” is an homage to Mark Matousek’s book, Sex Death Enlightenment



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24 thoughts on “PART 9 – SCENT OF A MAN

  1. Self-Respecter

    You’re not being physically beaten, but you are an emotional masochist. In between bouts of lovemaking, he’s dating other people; and announcing when he leaves that it’s to go off with another woman. It’s sick! He’s tuned into the fact that he can get away with it. I just don’t understand the “sensual addiction” excuse- heroin would feel good too, but you don’t do it. Why this?

  2. Anonymous

    Hi Sara,

    I’m smelling something, too – the scent of a jerk! My stomach dropped when you wrote of him hopping out of bed to go out on a date with another woman! Do you remember the movie with Diane Keaton “Something’s Gotta Give”, where she spots Jack Nicholson in a restaurant with a younger woman the day after they made love and she had felt such a strong connection? I’m thinking of that scene where he chases her down the street and she tells him tearfully that she thought their “connection” meant more to him and that she cannot continue seeing him while he serially dates other women? Of course, I realize there may not be any Keeanu Reeves waiting in the wings in your case, but still…she did what was right for her, no matter how painful it was. Come to think of it, your relationship with “Billy the Bad” might be good material for a movie! You seem to be so intuitive, Sara – but try not to mix up your “wants” with your “needs”. Looking forward to hearing about how the rest of this saga plays out…

  3. Anonymous

    If you knew who you truly were, at your essence, you’d see that your allowing yourself to be validated as a being…or not…by a man, any man, or any human being, is rather silly.
    You need to look at why you attracted this man into your life, learn the lesson from it, and then LET GO OF HIM!!!
    If you do otherwise, then you really do deserve what you get, sister!

  4. Sunnymay

    A serial dater is playing games. When a serious relationship is at stake or just starting, it takes a lot of energy to toss off reality and goof around with others while
    “just lookin’.” Either you want to make a connection or not.

  5. veek

    i wonder how billy would feel if you were dating multiple people. i suspect he would not like it, based on the stuff you’ve shared so far. so that’s where this gets off-balance for me. i think it is fine for two consenting adults to agree to have an open relationship – but if only one person is permitted to be open, or if only one person takes advantage of the openness, then things go downhill fast. you are no longer on equal ground. go on a date with someone else. billy’s response to that will tell you a lot.

  6. Rick, the celestial cowboy poet

    i grew up in a small town and there were so many girls to choose from — farm girls, ministers’ daughters, the daughter of the town police chief, an assistant librarian and a girl who trained horses. i played the field and learned a little more from each girl. and THE GIRLS WERE DOING THE SAME THING. they were picking their partners with care and if they felt like it, would sleep with that person. isn’t that what you, sara, have been doing all your life?

    Until i make that decision of who i want to date exclusively, i will continue to shop around and sleep with whomever i take a shine to, as long as they are healthy, free of disease and interested in me. you aren’t married or engaged, and neither is billy. he may, in his exuberance, have decided you were far more sexually upscale than you really are and that is why he ventured to talk about these other women.

    surely, sara, billy is not the only man you have been sleeping with. maybe there was more than billy the bad at work here. wink, wink. how about ‘sara the bad.’? lol…and maybe, just maybe, you would be the woman that a guy would want to take home to mama and love for the rest of his natural life. kudos.

  7. Malka

    The only one who has the key and the truth about who you really are is yourself..this is the part that we, the older men and women have to more parents to blame, society to blame or men is liberating but also reqire real maturity and you know what to do, and you will do it eventually, hopefully intact.



  8. Treena

    To Rick the cowboy-
    The thing about playing the field is in how it’s done. Why does Billy, fresh from the bed, have to announce every time that he’s on his way to another date? That’s not exuberance, it’s manipulation!He’s grabbing her good feelings and tainting them with his shallowness. He’s afraid to give himself any time at all to savor what he’s just experienced before throwing out threats(yep- they’re hostile!)And it’s B-S that you have to sleep with oodles of different people to find out relevant things about them. Then you end up with a trophy list instead of becoming mature.

  9. Anonymous

    SMELL! I am very tuned into it, as it sounds like you are. My lover says I must have been a dog in my last life. I have been with this lover for 6 years — smells amazing — its one of the first things I noticed about him, and it defintiely keeps me attached and yearning crazily for him, all the while knowing we haven’t a whole lot in common and the end is going to come. But the smell!

    Maybe the Great Mother is just funning with us — but I am not laughing….this can take YEARS out of your life!

  10. carousel

    Yes…yes…yes..smell…of course…it goes along with inhaing, breathing…it gives us life…it sets the emotions stirring like food, nature's fresh air…so why wouldn't the smell of the opposite sex have equal importance… it most certainly does!!! it's like turning away from the cooking aroma of a favorite meal…or chocolate dessert…mmm..the smell of vanilla…it's intoxicating & VERY hard to resist! Takes a lot of will power…fighting against the temptation…ah..the temptation of “the smell!”

  11. Anonymous

    This guy is a player, and you are hooked on the dopamine high of sensuality and sex. Been there, done that and I had to go through serious withdrawls. When I realized it was all chemical, and not really about a soul connection, I had sobering moment of insight.

  12. Anonymous

    This guy is player, and you are the playee. You are hooked on the dopamine high, and this can result in serious withdrawl. This is a chemical attraction, not a soul connection.

  13. acupunc


    Your experience with Billy is reminiscent of how we were in the Sixties and early 70s…multiple sex partners, attempting to be mellow and fine about an open relationship….yet, usually hungering for a committed, monogamous connection.

    Sometimes, I long for that era
    and get hooked by bearded, hippie-type men. About 4 years ago, I met a guy online from another state; he was a poet by avocation and used it to seduce women (I later learned). I flew up to his city to be with him and he explained that he was trying to be polyamorous. In a desire to please him, I said I’d be ok with that. Well, it ended up almost damaging my self-esteem and I ended it.

    The reason I bring this up is because at this stage in our lives, playing at being all-accepting of whatever type of treatment or relationship the man demands or expects doesn’t work anymore. I believe it is the time in our lives to recognize our true self and honor it. If a man can’t recognize that and love us for who we are, what’s the point?

  14. Sean

    In my opinion, Billy shows little regard for your feelings or your psyche. It’s one thing to dash off after a night and morning of intimacy, and quite another if one is dashing off to “check out someone else”. He will always have great words and laudatory exclamations as to your charms and “how great we are together”, while still trolling the streams for his next fish. I believe it is impossible to have any meaningful relationship with someone who has a constantly “roving eye”. That he has so little regard for you, and appears to have the sensitivity of a horny goat, makes him a great candidate for the town dump, or the back waters of some trash novel. Your chances of a successful relationship on your terms with Billy would be lower than Netanyahu’s chance of finding true love at a sidewalk bistro in Palestine. I look forward to the next chapter.

  15. rick the celestrial cowboy poet


    Well said about Billy. I could not agree with you more.
    My point is that Sara should just dish it back out to him. She should use wit, humor, even caustic satire or a baseball bat to get her message across! billy the bad is like a taurus bull in a china closet, impressed with his own sexual prowess and his performance, and loving what he does. hey, that’s fine…but he should do it with a lot more consideration and class. he does things for sara that most men don’t do, by the way…making breakfast, coming up with her favorite foods and drinks. he is the world’s perfect love machine. but he needs a reality check. i think it would work wonderfully, for example, if sara would invite him over — and then meet him at the door wearing a sexy negligee with another lover in the background and say, smiling, SORRY…YOU’RE TOO LATE! lol…that would solve her problem with billy, once and for all, i guarantee you!

  16. Dr. Barbra

    My ex-husband smelled as good as Billy and every woman who saw him noticed it. It didn’t help that he looked like a cross between Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Men loved him too because he has a very laid back way of allowing people to project their fantasies onto him.
    So, as you can imagine, it was like a roller coaster for 26 years until I finally ran out of energy!
    I was as addicted as any heroin addict, only he was my drug of choice.

    So you saying”no” was a good and brave thing, but the heart wants what it needs, so via con dios.

    I am waiting with bated breath for each subsequent chapter. Thanks for writing about what most of us have experienced.

  17. Barb

    Reading this is like going back in time for me. I was with “Billy” for 3 years. That’s how long it took me to get out of it. I tried EVERYTHING. I was totally addicted. Willpower has nothing to do with it. Addiction is insanity. This kind of guy is definitely like heroin. He feels so good, I feel so good when I am around him. I can’t do without him. The longer it goes on, the worse it gets.

    I can’t wait for your next chapter. Keep going.

  18. Annie

    Celestial Cowboy! I love your posts, wanna hook up? I would totally throw this back in Billy’s face and lie lie lie, “oh I gotta go cause I have a sexy 30 year old boy toy waiting for some of me!”. I’m exploring my newly single self and right now I sit in Maui where I just said goodbye to a sexy Spaniard, several years my junior, but of course he has no idea how old I really am, and he can’t wait for more. I say get what you need from Billy the Bad and then move on to Randy the Rad and Joe the Gigolo. He is not your soulmate clearly so just go with it!! When it’s good like that it’s so so good. I’m jealous!!

  19. Anonymous


    He reminds me so much of my x-husband that it’s incredible. He loves the chase,the romantic gestures,and especially the conquest. Underneath, he’s all about himself and has a self hatred that he projects as cruelty upon others. I’m sure I’m talking about my X, but it seems so familiar. I don’t feel I will go there again, but I’m certainly enjoying reading your process with it! I hope you do better than I did with it.! Millie

  20. Anonymous

    so YOU are contributing to the “games” by not calling him back after he left 3 messages for you during the day!!! What was THAT about??? Bullshit I say.

  21. Mary

    I had a friend who met a man through one of the dating websites. He told her upfront that he was a “player” and that he wasn’t looking to settle down. This did not stop her from dating him. I once asked her why she did this and if it had any effect on her self worth. She said that she kept on dating him because she hoped it would lead to marriage and security…and to her security was love. There are many reasons to why we love and especially many more reasons at our age. The stakes are higher, we have so much less time to waste than when we were younger and we have seen tragedies and know just how fragile everything is. Sometimes we know the reason for our decisions and some times we just want what happiness and joy we can find. And we gamble that the pain will not come.

  22. Sarah F

    I really enjoy reading your blog. It makes sense for you to have kept him in your life, thus far in the blog. It sounds like he is kind of an addiction, and it's hard to take a step back and logically think about the situation when you are in the midst of it. Also, it seemed like he knows how to rope people in, by doing nice things that someone in a relationship would do. These mixed messages are hard to interpret but ultimately it seems like everyone can learn a lot from this blog and thank you so much for sharing your experiences 🙂

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