What are you willing to settle for in life and love? What risks are you willing to take to find a relationship that feeds your soul and your body? Leslie Morgan in her memoir, The Naked Truth, explores these questions with raw and graphic honesty, candy-coating nothing while leaving every detail of her sexual awakening available to the reader.
The Naked Truth is a searing and vulnerable memoir that explores the author’s midlife sexual awakening after a marriage devoid of affection, sex and romance.
I admire Morgan for her bravery at exposing the most intimate details of her sexual experiment to find five lovers in the year after her divorce. Her language is raw, vulgar and yet precisely the right word choice for each situation, thought and truism she writes about. Morgan’s writing might make you cringe, but her truths will make you think about the true nature of love, passion, lust, relationships and marriage.
Morgan’s memoir begins at the end of her unhappy, long marriage, to Marty. When we meet the author, she has settled for what passes on the surface as an ideal marriage. Morgan had buried long-held resentment “about the compromises and sacrifices marriage had extracted” and bitter that her husband, Marty had not made the same sacrifices for her family. Morgan admits that her husband “didn’t share her enthusiasm for sex” nor was present emotionally— “I wanted someone to hold me and look in my eyes with love again. Most of all, I wanted Marty to.”
What I most appreciate about Morgan’s writing is her ability to put into words hard truths and all-too-common facts about many long marriages. She makes a humbling confession that her husband didn’t, or maybe even couldn’t, look her in the eye when they made love. She admits that she settled for “muted lovemaking, doled out a few times a month,” thinking it was typical for most marriages, and a small price to pay for a stable family life with a kind, reserved man. She reveals that to cope; she masturbates during the late mornings while her husband is at work and the kids at school. “I thought this acceptance was another sign of our maturity, of a happy union, of the sleeping-with-socks comfort of a long, mellow marriage.”
Morgan soldiers on in this loveless marriage rationalizing that her husband’s stability and reliability is enough to compensate for the other shortcomings that feed the soul. After Marty asks for a divorce, the author confronts her blunted sexuality and embarks on a quest to have sex with five men.
Over the course of 12 months, Morgan learns to navigate dating in middle age soon discovering that traditional dating “had gone the way of the cotillion” during her long stretch of married life. She confronts hard truths about the age and gender bias that seems to have brainwashed the sisterhood. A matchmaker tells her that her male clients will want to date her but won’t want a relationship with her. “They’ll love you for about three months, the novelty, your mind, your fire. Then, they’ll come back to me and ask for someone more ‘traditional.’ These types of men say they want a partner. In reality, they don’t. They want someone to make their world prettier, to ride in the backseat of their life.”
Her friends tell Morgan to settle in her next relationship, to expect a downgrade in husbands. Morgan doesn’t buy into their fatalist view of dating. She isn’t looking for a baby daddy or a white picket fence. She is searching for men who inspire her lust and make her feel good about herself. As a successful writer, Morgan can pay her own mortgage, health insurance and live life by her own rules. Morgan reasons that she won’t get attached to any one man and in the process figure out what she wants in a relationship long-term.
The Naked Truth explores questions of why and how we choose a partner. There are those who “grab the gold ring” by marrying men who deliver the ideal lifestyle. Some marry for lust and passion; others choose partners for safety and reliability. Unfortunately in real life, there is no universal and infallible list of qualifications to guide our choice in a partner.
We figure love out in our own way, on our own time, making mistakes along the way. The Naked Truth reveals an essential fact about love and sex: Until we understand how we want and need to be loved, finding fulfilling love and romance remains elusive. Morgan doesn’t know what she doesn’t know, until she took risks and was willing to pay the price. My wish is that her newfound wisdom leads to her to a lover and soulmate.
Leslie Morgan is also the author of Crazy Love, a memoir about her abusive first marriage and is an in-demand speaker on domestic abuse topics.