Granted, I have little experience dating. I wasn’t one of those people who went through the whirlwind of social activity in my 20′s. The last few years have been about me, playing catch-up. All my relationships have been long-term, and overlapping and, sorry to say, of the meet-fall-in-love-get-the-U-Haul variety. I’m still new at the dating terrain, and I’m going to make some mistakes. The interesting part is that I’m experiencing this dynamic as a grown-up, with fixed ideas about how things ought to be, and at every turn, i am reminded that intelligence, discretion, and integrity don’t always come into play with everyone involved.
But I’ve always considered myself a discerning person when it comes to sexual activity. The irony is that when you’re younger, you make stupid choices based on hormones or emotional immaturity, or peer pressure, or curiosity. When you’re older, you might also make stupid choices, but they are more likely based on calculated risk or the knowledge that you’re a grownup and can sleep with whomever you want. Consenting adults would be the operative term here. (Even though I am not usually the casual-sex type). The glitch in this sometimes complicated dance of romance, is that you can’t always depend on the other person’s emotional development matching your own.
My decision to take part in sexual activity with a woman I was recently dating, was based on my own damnable frustration (8 months is way too long for me to do without intimacy, obviously, and it has a way of inciting swift sexual behavior on my part–consistently a mistake for me). I was also curious about whether this older and ostensibly “more experienced” woman could, for lack of a better phrase, “send me to the moon.” I’m always interested in THAT. . .and she assured me, with a generous amount of confidence, that she could. So, frustration coupled with the fact that I genuinely liked this woman, and the tease of possible fulfillment, was enough for me to put on my space helmet and give in to my more primitive desires. My misgivings were few, although formidable.
- I was not physically/romantically attracted to her
- I didn’t want her to misconstrue my interest in sex with her as a declaration of my undying devotion.
But she had said numerous times, “I’m very patient. If you want to date for a year first, that’s fine” and “We’re grownups. Grownups can do what grownups do” and when I expressed concern that her interpretation of the event would be more meaningful for her than for me, she said glibly, “Come on, we have known each other two minutes. “
So one of my concerns seemed unfounded. Therefore, I let it go.
My first concern, however, was rooted in a general fear that I might be shallow if I made too much of the attraction-factor. Everyone is beautiful on the inside. . . Don’t judge a book by its cover. . . physical attraction is fleeting, it’s the longevity that you want. . . blah blah blah. . .
She obviously had the attraction-factor in full swing. She had already confessed that the moment I walked into the hotel lobby to meet her for coffee that first time, my smile “lit up the room” and she “fell pretty hard for me right then and there.” I chose to ignore the red flag in that, and instead allowed myself to be flattered. Sometimes people say things like that to make a point that is merely about feeling an immediate attraction. But then there are some people who really believe in love at first sight, or really DO develop feelings right away. To me, anything MORE than a little crush or attraction right off the bat are grounds for an about-face and a sprint back to my car. I guess I took it to mean just an initial attraction. But judging by the aftermath of all this, what she felt was a little more than that. And this is another red flag .
She wanted to buy me things, do things for me. A little too motivated to impress me. She made sure that I knew how generous she was, how many toys and gadgets she owned, how many connections she had that could bring me the things she suspected I desired.
She began to say things like, “We need to get you some furniture, you have to stop camping out in your house,” and “We need to get your credit cards paid off,” and “Do you have a passport? We need to take a trip.” and “you need a new car, maybe i can find you one.” We? She was already seeing us as a committed couple, when the most I had said was that I would exclusively date her for a while. This was mainly for my sake. I find it difficult to date more than one person at a time. I can see now that “exclusively” can be misconstrued as “committed.”
Back to the big night. The first-sex thing.
Bloodwork papers exchanged and inspected, I let her do the honors first, (because she insisted) and if I am brutally honest with myself, I felt exactly zero. Oh, I TRIED to feel something. I really did. But when I realized later that I had avoided eye-contact and, indeed, avoided looking at her at all, and even filled my mind’s eye with fantasies of other women–well, .
…I NEVER think about other people when I’m with someone. Never. Yet that’s what I did. I wasn’t attracted to her physically; I didn’t want to see her naked; I didn’t want to see those expressions that people have when they are sharing something so intimate. I didn’t get sent to the moon, I didn’t even make it to the skyline, although she tried valiantly.
When the tables were turned, she had no trouble at all with the trip to the moon, judging by her reaction. She even complimented me on my expertise. Now, while I am a confident and, I feel, competent lover, this was another . …I could do no wrong in her eyes. Everything about me was great. Charming. Wonderful.
When she had said something flirty to me in the first few days, I said, in an Irish brogue, “Always after me lucky charms. . . they’re magically delicious.” She was largely entertained by this, and it became an ongoing joke between us. Whenever I would become uncomfortable by her generosity, she would say, “Don’t get your lucky charms in a twist. I enjoy spending money on people. It’s what it’s for.” So, on a whim, I bought a box of Lucky Charms, cut the front of it out into the shape of a heart and wrote, They’re magically delicious on the back. She said it meant more to her than the usual gift, and responded by immediately buying me a silver charm bracelet. I don’t know if it cost very much, but….the point is, I gave her humorous cardboard, she gave me silver..
During one of our dates, she said “I may not be the best looking thing to come down the pike, but I’ll treat you good and you’ll never want for anything.”.(She really was trying to sell herself as a sugarmamma, it seems. That’s not the sort of relationship I’m seeking. No amount of money will replace the richness of being in love and truly adoring another person. If i didn’t feel that way, I’d just get one of those Russian brides). She asked me at least three times if I thought I could ever fall in love with her. . (Now keep in mind, the grand total of our “affair” was 9 days–like my best friend says, “You can pick someone up in a bar and do that, and then never speak to them again.”). It was so awkward answering that in a tactful way. I knew the answer was NO, but I didn’t want to be mean or hurtful. I would just go to my usual remarks about needing to feel certain things initially with someone, and that I didn’t feel that with her.
Unfortunately, I felt the need to test the sexual waters before all this became painfully clear to me. I could tell by my own reactions to her that it was going nowhere for me. I dreaded it when she leaned in to kiss me, I dreaded it when she wanted to hold my hand. . . .at a party we attended, I wished I wasn’t her date, because I found myself being attracted to about 4 other women in the room. . I was discreet of course, but I did take note that these are not the behaviors of someone who is attracted to or seriously interested in the person they are with. I knew I was going to have to find a way to ease out of this “exclusivity contract.”
After I pulled away too many times, I guess she finally sensed it, and we cut our weekend short. She went home and then the calls and IM’s began. In several recent communications, where I continued to try to tactfully tell her that I wasn’t attracted to her physically, and just didn’t feel the spark I wanted to feel, she would try to convince me otherwise. . She even accused me of not giving it a chance, and wanting “a fairy tale.” If a fairy tale is that I want to be attracted to someone I am involved with sexually, then, so be it–I want a fairy tale. (But I don’t believe that). It sure did rub me the wrong way. I told her that I knew myself pretty well, thank you, and she didn’t know me that well, hadn’t known me long enough to be qualified to tell me what I did and didn’t need. Another . Why would any healthy person want to pursue and push someone else who has admitted they have no physical attraction to her? If someone said that to me, the last thing I would do is try to change her mind. I would just migrate all that to friendship. I’ve done it more than once. It’s not quantum physics, nor an indication that I should be “over the dating thing” and begin to collect all those cats for the long years ahead of living alone. So it doesn’t work out between two people. That’s life.
She said, “I thought you felt that spark, just like me, and that’s why we SLEPT together!” . Mmmmm. Not the impression I got when she was so glib about the “grownups do what they want” spiel. It’s not like she didn’t know what my “type” was. I had pointed that out on numerous occasions, but she was persistent. People hear what they want to hear. And sometimes they blame you if it doesn’t magically morph into the story they have in their heads.
So. I will not tell any woman, ever again, that I will exclusively date her, unless I really mean “I am really attracted to you and can’t think of being with anyone else.”
And I won’t even KISS another woman unless I feel sparks when I meet her and have spent some time getting to know her enough to see if there are any .
And I most certainly won’t try to quench any primal urges with another woman unless I think I might actually LOVE her.
The next time I am intimate with a woman, I want it to be an expression of love. Lovemaking.
I don’t ever want to have sex again.
2 of 5: Sullied Pajamas, Redux