One thing’s become very clear to me over the last few years of my life: I don’t know how to make a man into a boyfriend.
I can date all day long. Like, meet men, go out, have sex, rinse, repeat. I know how to have lively and fun first dates and mad, writhing, hot sex. I can do days and days of witty texting banter and suggestive jokes in person. But “dating” as in multiples of all of that strung together over time which includes intimacy and vulnerability? Um… not so much.
I live within a conundrum and a proven fear of which I am finding extremely difficult to claw my way out.
First, the conundrum. Sex is the vehicle through which I am intimate and can become more vulnerable and attached. Therefore it is more important to me than just a physical release, it is my umbilical cord to my partner. If the sex isn’t great, I am dead in the water; I have no way through which to connect and be expressive of my deeper feelings. And before anyone pipes up to tell me to just be different, to focus on other things, let me just stop you. I’ve tried. I’m simply not wired that way.
I must have sex before there’s a deeper emotional connection because I know from experience that feelings alone won’t allow me to survive. I loved my exhusband deeply, but our sex was lackluster, filled with his fear and timidity and my longing for more than what he could give. It made me hate myself for needing more from him and him for being so afraid of it, us, and me.
I fuck so freely because I want to. I’m 40, I’m in control of my sexuality, but I also fuck to find that mate, that elusive sexual partner who can understand me in the unspoken language of clashing hips and bruising penetration. The Neighbor and I had it and it launched me into a place of emotional intimacy, the kind that everyone else seems to put first. Too bad The Neighbor had nothing more to give me, but that’s besides the point. I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong. My cart just happens to be before the horse.
Enter, the fear. The fear of not being sexually compatible, of never being able to reach my partner, to feel the things I need and crave to be alive and wondrous and alight with love. My sex life with my exhusband was the antithesis of me. It was chaste, sad, disconnected. His libido was low to non-existent. He once told me if he never had sex again he’d be ok. That’s like telling a chef you’ll be happy eating Spaghetti O’s forever.
Six months into our relationship things went south. I went to the gynecologist, talked to friends, read books. But I loved him, so I trucked on with no regrets. I remember the week I got pregnant with Peyton because it was the first time in possibly ever that we had sex three times in one week. Then we didn’t again for many weeks and by then I was pregnant and I used my symptoms as an excuse to avoid it because all I wanted was to cry and run away to a dark corner of my heart every time we coupled.
My experience with him nearly wiped me out. Our bad sex wasn’t the only factor in why I left, but it was a big one. I felt empty, unloved, invisible. Not unlike I feel now, though now I don’t have a husband and I can handle it. Such is the single life.
I’ve had compelling conversations with people about how to mitigate the transience of the men of my life. Slow down, be intimate first, wait. Everyone is rooting for me to find that magic man who can see past all the sex into the woman who lies beneath, myself included, but ultimately I have to be me. I am my own Litmus Test. If a man uses me for sex, misunderstands my intentions, assumes I’m not worthy, believes I’m a sex toy, whatever, then ok. He’s clearly not the man for me.
I have to believe that being me is the best and only way to be, otherwise I’m fucking fucked. Who else am I supposed to be?
I’ve waited for emotions to percolate before having sex. I’ve had sex hours after meeting someone. There’s no equation to successfully turn a man into a boyfriend other than the both of us being in the right place at the right time and that’s the sad truth. I’m not going to fleece myself and say, “Hy, if you only did this, or this, then he’d stick around! If you didn’t put out until the 5th date then he’d for sure be there in the morning!” because I know that not to be true. I don’t have that kind of control over other people.
I am genuine, I am open, and I am honest as I possibly can be. I tell the men I meet that I don’t have a strategy to my life other than to enjoy myself. I do what I want, but ultimately I want a partner, someone to be close with and to spend time with me and my kid. Every man is told this and so far every man seems to hear instead, “It’s ok to fuck her and have no manners afterwards. I don’t need to treat this woman like a human with feelings because she’s not ‘serious.’ Also, she’s going to get clingy, so best to show her what’s up now and be fuckboy distant.”
I have done everything I can possibly think of to ward off the mistreatment of me while still honoring my own drives and desires. I’ve breezily explained my texting habits and wants, that I need a post-sex text or call, that I’d like to treat one another respectfully and Hey, if your feelings change about me, just lemme know. I’ve also tried it the other way, the silent, read-between-the-lines way, the just be Super Chill Girl. Wanna know what happened? Same fucking thing: nothing.
And why? Because I’m having sex too early? Because I lead with my sexuality? Because I live in a society chock full of double standards? Because I’m a shit person? Because I said too much too soon?? No. Because he isn’t the right man for me. That’s all it is; it’s that fucking simple. We’re not right for each other.
I get sad and worn out from finding so many wrong men, I’m only human, but these wrong fellas are stepping stones to finding the right one(s). I’d never know unless I tried and am an eternal optimist, good, bad, or ugly.
This is a reminder to keep doing what I do, to hold my chin high and wipe the slate clean as soon as I’m treated in a way I find unacceptable. No apologies. There’s no excuse to not contact me after a fantastic date and hot first-time sex. None. There’s no excuse to ignore my texts for days when you were so eager to meet me in the first place. There’s just no excuse for any of that, so that must mean he’s not the right man for me, but someone out there is and I’m going to keep looking. Naked and fucking and all Hy.