pain

I Looked For Love Even On Tinder And All I Got Was Penises I Didn’t Want

Painting by  Mark Harless

Painting by Mark Harless

Almost every sexual encounter I have had in the past year has been peppered with assault.
I have finally decided that it is not me that is over sensitive – even nice guys can push and push and push until you make decisions with which you were never comfortable. The moment you realise that an innocent, testing-the-waters kiss is to most a signed invitation to your most private, sensual parts is the moment you start to fear the attention of males.There was the guy who constantly contested my merits in bed. He corrected my technique relentlessly and first made me aware that just because I am attractive doesn’t mean I couldn’t be a shit lover.

 

Then there was the guy that drowned me in vodka sodas then quickly took me to a hotel room and convinced me to have unprotected sex. Multiple times.  As he came on my stomach I started to question my decision-making process.

This guy, who was older, I saw several more times. In hindsight, I wonder why – was it for the food? The novelty? Did I genuinely enjoy sex with him? I am truly unsure, but this was one of the more positive relationships I had with a representative of the male gender.

My next three experiences were exceptions to the rule… not to say they didn’t suck.

I dated a close friend, until I realised I would only disappoint him. He wanted commitment and a life partner, and I was totally unsure.  I could tell he only saw the parts of me he wanted to see. I kinda wish I had wanted the kind of relationship he wanted because we could have been damn good at it.

I dated a slightly younger guy – too innocent and immature. I had one date with somebody I had met at a party – he talked about himself the entire time, a detailed saga of his many exploits. Didn’t even ask me about any of mine.  These dates seemed kind of sad, and made me wonder about the uninspiring plane in which I now existed.

Then I discovered Tinder, and the real psychological trauma started.

First date – an American boy who thought it was rude not to make out within ten minutes of meeting. He called me “standoff-ish” and “unfriendly”. I had enough sense to not prove him wrong and left fairly soon after.

Second date – a boy with no chin who was quiet and kind. Despite the no-chin, I decided to give him a chance. I felt sick at the bar, so he took me home and slipped his penis into me while he was fingering me. I had told him I did not want to have sex; he was welcome to stay the night but only on the condition he did not expect anything. It took me a few thrusts to understand what was happening, and once I did, I stopped it and asked him to please not do that again. We slept beside each other, and I made him an omelette the next morning.

Third date – I was visiting a different country and met up with a local boy who showed me some sites. As we made out on a rooftop, he convinced me to stay at his place for the night. I had initially said no, and explained I wasn’t interested in casual sex. He said that all he wanted was to cuddle. This sounded nice. As I lay sprawled on his king size bed, I wondered why I had allowed myself to get naked. I like the sensation, I’m comfortable in my nudity, but I understand that it gives the wrong idea. He was using his fingers to do things I’d said he couldn’t do with his penis, and then all of a sudden I had another illicit penis in me.  “Hey that’s not cool,” I said. I made to leave and he convinced me to stay. We spooned, and I left early the next morning. I forgot my favourite watch and earrings, but was too ashamed to return for them the next day.

As I discussed the previous night’s events with a friend, I started to understand the utter lack of respect with which I had let myself be treated. I think casual sex is fine, maybe even healthy, if both parties are consenting. In two cases now, I had been determinedly non-consenting, and had ended up having intercourse anyways. What seemed worse was that I had not descended unto the perpetrators in a fit of rage, but had instantly forced myself to forgive them. The puppy dog eyes, the hurriedly whispered apologies, the hushed and raspy nighttime voices. I calmly saw it through, without raising my voice, and would then take a week or two or three off from pursuing anyone. “I’m done!” I would proclaim, but then fall back into old patterns.

The latest occurrence was the most painful. 

The first time we met, I instantly took a liking to him. He was a good listener with interesting things to say. Confident, but kind. And, he gave me space until I didn’t need it anymore. For our second date, we went to the beach and kissed in the waves. “I suspected you had a nice bum, and now I have the proof,” he said. We ate hamburgers and discussed fantasy books our twelve-year-old selves had loved. On our third date, we climbed to a cliff top and watched the sun set over the city, eating crackers and hummus.  He held me in his arms and played with my hair (a secret weakness) and I was trying not to say anything too romantic, because it was too soon.

Later, at my place, he pulled me onto the bed and kisses gave way to expectations. “Look,” I told him, “I think you’re really cool but I’m gonna need to take things slow.” I confessed that as soon as things started happening I felt really uncomfortable, and didn’t know how to enjoy anything. I hinted about past experiences, and why I thought I really needed to feel safe with someone before going any further. He listened, kinda looked like he wanted to bail, then pulled himself together. He put his arm around me, saying, “let’s work through this. It’ll be ok.” Meanwhile I buried my face in a pillow, ashamed of admitting my weakness. I normally aspire to be an Amazonian-type woman, and to make myself so meek felt like a blow to this character.

We watched cartoons and shitty british sitcoms, then fell asleep (he had convinced me to let him stay the night). I drifted to back to consciousness several hours later to being roughly fingered. I heard a voice in my ear in the darkness, “Can we? Can we please?” As I slowly woke up, I realised what was happening and got out of bed. Still half asleep, I whispered “are you serious?” Trying to learn from past mistakes, I asserted myself. How could he do this, after what I told him? I resented being made to feel unsafe in my own bed. He listened in silence, and got dressed. He looked truly distressed. Before he left, he kissed me on the cheek and said “I’ll text you in the morning.” I can’t remember if he apologised.

He didn’t text me in the morning. He texted me two days later, saying he enjoyed hanging out with me and did I want to see him again.

What is my problem with all this?

Guys that think they’re nice committing micro-assaults have damaged my sex life and my love life. I want to be trusting, and to give myself up to pleasure. But I don’t want to think that another human being has so little respect for me that they do not consider my wishes relevant. I want to be treated as a human being first and as an object of sexual desire second. Sex has always been something I consider semi-sacred. I guess even with people that are mostly strangers, sex needs to have the flavour of love, or of a mutual respect.

I am hurt now, and don’t want to be. Hopefully time does its thing and I am in the mood to open my heart again soon.

Submitted to ArtParasites by Scarlett