When Sex Isn’t Sex

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It amazes me that people are able to separate sex from emotions. I’ve tried having Friends With Benefits before with varying degrees of success, but invariably at some point my vagina convinces my brain that all of those endorphins must actually mean something, and I end up wanting more. Eventually the sex just isn’t enough. For me, this starts to occur around the third or fourth consecutive encounter with the same person. My vagina (which I like to personify with the name ‘Ophelia’) becomes increasingly despotic after each orgasm, and eventually she has me thinking things like, “Who cares if he’s a 21 year old factory worker who sells weed to pay for his Ketamine habit- I think we might actually have something special.” (NB this is an actual thought I have had when Ophelia was running the show. I legitimately considered starting a relationship with someone I would be ashamed to introduced to even my least judgemental friends.)

Of course once the spell is broken – in the case of my tranquilliser-addicted delinquent friend this was with the aid of a mutual case of “OMG, you gave me chlamydia!” – I am perfectly capable of objectively and rationally analysing the faults in Ophelia’s plans. At that point I usually want to die of embarrassment or slap myself in frustration – a classic “How the fuck did this happen again?” moment. But it does happen again. And it will happen again. Every time I sleep with someone who isn’t emotionally invested more than once.

I think part of the problem is the difference between what men and women take from intimacy. Generally speaking, I think guys commit acts of intimacy and affection because they feel nice, not because they mean something. Sometimes a dude just wants a cuddle, not a commitment. The issue is that acts of intimacy force me to lower my guard and make myself vulnerable, so a cuddle is never just a cuddle. It will always mean something to me because I’ve allowed someone in. And yes, I am aware of the irony in the fact that I find it more intimate to let someone in figuratively than to literally let them in (to my lady cave of wonders).

I see a big difference between sex and intimacy, and every time the two get mixed together I wind up in a stolen car halfway to Queensland watching my FWB dig a bullet out of his leg while Ophelia screams “Just drive, bitch!” (Okay, that one I made up. But you get my point.) Sex + intimacy = uh oh. As nice as it is, the hand holding/hair stroking/head kissing/face cupping/deep eye contact just creates way too much confusion.

The other sense of intimacy is the one that occurs naturally between platonic friends. It’s normal for a friend to rest their head on your shoulder, or text you to ask how your day was, or say something sweet to make you smile. But it stops feeling normal when the person doing all of these things is also doing all yo’ nasty bizness.

The verdict? It’s possible I could successfully maintain a FWB in the future. As long as he’s a mute with no arms who doesn’t own a phone and hates unnecessary physical contact. Bring on that guy. I’ll sex him good.

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Peckish

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I’ve been single for almost a year now. I go out. I dance. I drink. I go home, sometimes alone, sometimes with company. I online date. I text dudes. I try to figure out where things are going. I break things off before they get awkward or serious. I check my phone six times a day waiting to see if he’s texted me yet. I juggle several prospects at once with varying levels of interest. I tease, test and ignore. I get let down occasionally and let others down gently. I run from the over-invested and chase the disinterested.

I don’t really know what I’m looking for, but I am looking. I’ve begun to try to overcome any misgivings about the men I date, ignoring  sexual incompatibility and such serious character flaws as selfishness, arrogance and diffidence in the hopes of finding some kind of ongoing companionship.

I wouldn’t say that I’m hungry for more, but I’m definitely a little peckish. I don’t want to rush into anything serious, but I do want someone to be nice to me, to want to spend time with me on occasion, to think I’m pretty even when I’m in my pyjamas, to spend the night every now and then, to take me out to dinner and let me pay for half, to catch up for Friday night drinks with my friends. I don’t want to meet parents, spend every night together, stop hanging out with my friends, have automatic plans for every Saturday night or go grocery shopping together. I just want to date.

I’m wondering if any mid-twenty-to-early-thirty-something men actually want to date. All I’ve found so far are those who want too much and those who want too little, and like some kind of Goldilocks I seem to jump from one to the other without finding anything that seems “just right.” Something casual without the vulgarity of having “no strings attached,” as though actually spending time with a person you’re having sex with is some kind of huge hassle.

I’m not looking for Mr Right, or Mr Just-For-One-Night. Surely there’s something in between. I’m determined to find it.