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I’m going to admit to something vulnerable here (for a change). I get a lot of sexual attention. I don’t know if it’s the making pornography or extremely loud (bordering on obnoxious) sex-positivity or the going to and talking about sex parties. But for some strange reason a lot of people seem to think I’m DTF and let me know they are interested in Fing. And they are often correct.
Which means I often get to skip the process of meeting someone and then trying to suss out whether and under what conditions they might like to smash. Which is handy, since I don’t pride myself on my ability to accurately interpret social cues.
But, on occasion, I put myself out there and get rejected. Recently the rejector was a man who currently resides with his parents.
Honestly, no hate to people who live with their parents. I wish I could live with my parents without the very real possibility that as a result some member of my family might at some point play a leading role in a 20/20 murder mystery. I’m extremely grateful that my parents would take me in if needed. I assume the sex parties in Alabama have lower production values, but that is probably just internalized ruralphobia talking.
I’m not even mad at flakers. That would be extremely hypocritical. I’m mad about his excuse. I, personally, have never given up a chance to have sex with myself in order to squeeze in a workout. I might look better if that were a habit of mine but life is tradeoffs.
Anyway as I wallowed in self-pity after this stinging rejection, I thought about how rare this is experience is for me. I thought about people for whom this is likely a regular part of their lives. I felt so much empathy in that moment for people who, for whatever reasons, experience a lot of rejection while trying to have sex and date. I understood people who give up. In that instant, I was so done with dating that I wanted to go on SSRIs to kill my sex drive. I wanted to use Lexapro like one those medicines that block the effect of heroin or nicotine or whatever.
I already had plans to hang out with my friend Ralph* so I picked up a bottle of rose (full disclosure, it was two), and headed to his place to drink and kvetch in his apartment building’s patio/garden.
We ended up at a neighborhood bar with our other friend Jerome*, who was bitching about his own recent romantic rejection. Having discussed that situation sufficiently and being sufficiently liquored up, I wanted to play some pool. I’d noticed that the guy who had the table was hot and felt slightly embarrassed to be so bad at pool in front of him. But I decided to lean into it and tried flirting with him while he kicked my ass. Jacques* wasn’t really giving a lot back but he did seem mildly amused and gave me extra turns so I’d get some play for my $2.
I think Jerome said something about Jacques being hot and I heartily agreed. But for whatever reason Jerome told Jacques to ask for my number as we were leaving to meet Jerome’s friend at another bar for 80’s night. Jacques didn’t say no or seem uncomfortable (tho, again social cues aren’t my strong suit as we’ve established). Feeling bold, I asked if I could give him my number.
“I already have it,” Jacques said.
I ignored him and asked the question again because that response made no sense. I was pretty sure I misheard him, and we needed to leave. He repeated himself. I asked how. A few weeks ago I got a really good vibe from the bartender at that bar. He was wearing a mask and a beanie but I saw his face for like two seconds so I knew he was hot. I guess was feeling especially horny/bold at the time because I never do this but I’d written my number to on my receipt.
We’d texted a bit since then but I hadn’t made another move.
He said he was that bartender and I was shocked. I didn’t recognize him at all. Then I was like, damn! He was so much hotter than I’d realized! It was definitely one of those, really? moments. You? Are into me? Looking like that? Are you sure?
I was like, “Amazing! I had no idea! Come to Cat Club with us!”
Reader, he and his friend totally came. We danced to 80’s music. I felt that thing when you get close to someone you really want to bang and it like zaps things in your brain to touch them.
I invited him back to smoke some weed after dancing and we talked for hours. At one point I brought up tantra and he asked me to describe it. I talked about a few stories from the book I’m partway through.
One of the things that’s apparently possible is for every emotion that might come up during sex to be safe for everyone involved. The author talked about a couple where one person got angry during sex. The couple was able to safely incorporate that emotion into their session. One part of another couple recently lost one of their parents and they both were able to incorporate grief and crying into the experience. I said I think it would be really amazing to experience that level of openness, connection, and safety through and during sex.
We talked so late into the night. And I never stay up for anyone or anything. But I just didn’t want this magical night to end. Eventually our bodies got close and I was having such a good time. I recognized how hilarious I was for being ready to give up sex mere hours earlier.
At one point while we’re making out I start thinking about what I’d just written about feeling like all my efforts to find love were pointless and my chances of success were so remote. I thought about how when I feel a certain way, I often feel like I’m almost always feeling that way.
I noticed it during therapy, when I complained about my weird feelings around masturbation. There are things I want to do when masturbating, when I’m not masturbating. But then 99% of the time when I’m ready to go I just default to the ways that work but I don’t love. I complained to my therapist, who gave me some homework which I probably didn’t do. Then I kinda forgot about it for a few weeks.
When I remembered, I realized that this problem doesn’t actually bother me very much the vast majority of the time.
But when it is bothering me, I believe that it bothers me nearly that much the vast majority of the time.
It’s the same with relationships. When things are bad I think things are mostly bad. When things are good I think things are mostly good.
Depression lies. The depressed brain believes things that are wrong and can’t see options that exist to other people.
It’s like I have different consciousnesses based on my mood and they only recently became aware of the other’s existence. They can kinda communicate sometimes but they definitely don’t trust each other yet.
I’m working on more consistently remembering that cognitive distortions exist and are real.
The hard thing for me isn’t trying to decide whether that person hates me or was just having a bad day. The hard thing is when it never occurs to me that there might be another explanation.
When I’m hurting, the thought of experiencing more loss feels untenable. I get pessimistic to avoid being disappointed. When I’m suffering less, I get optimistic. The pain of disappointment seems well worth the joy of looking forward to things.
Therapy motivates me to actually inventory and triage my problems so I can get my money’s worth. My therapist in particular is super good at asking questions that teach me or remind me that there are so many possibilities.
I’m learning that when I’m happier I maintain a little room for uncertainty between the information I have and my conclusions. I can remember that it’s possible that there are many great options, opportunities, and interpretations available to me of which I’m not yet aware. I’m working on remembering that when I’m less happy.
It’s possible to cry or rage during sex and for that to be okay. It’s possible that I sometimes underestimate my likelihood of falling in love again when I’m feeling down.
It was super awk to have all this flying around my skull while sweating profusely with my legs wrapped around him. I felt anxious. So many times I’ve powered through. But this time I chose to accept that I was a little anxious. I told him an abbreviated version of what’s above. What’s above may not be fully comprehensible, so I can only imagine what he took away from what I said.
I doubt I’d have consciously predicted his response, but I don’t think I would have shared if I hadn’t on some level entertained it as a possibility.
“That’s okay.” He said he wanted to make room for whatever arises — anger, grief, or anxiety. I laughed at the callback. And then I enjoyed that it felt more possible than it has in a long time.
*Names changed to protect the guilty