By Olivia Ford
“Love is the answer, but while you are waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions.”
It’s a fine line between sex and romance. I lost my virginity to my first boyfriend, senior year of high school – romantic notion in theory perhaps, but the reality of the sex itself…was not. As expected, neither of us knew what we were doing and the few times we tried, it ended in buzz-killing guilt. He felt immoral about having sex. I felt bad about letting him have it with me, knowing it would leave him remorseful. With this kind of complicated experience, it wasn’t exactly love-at-first-practice between sex and I.
When I left for college, it was easier to find guys without a guilty sexual conscious – too easy. It seemed as soon as I slept with a guy, I never heard from him again. And to be honest, that was okay with me. The short-lived flame of a one-night stand was all I wanted after the fiasco of a sexless long-term relationship. I’m sure many people would disagree, but I came to find that there is something romantic in even the shortest of affairs. Forget the shots before, the hangover after and all the wrong things in between, there’s just something so irresistibly right about your eyes lingering on him from across the bar, his sneaking a gentle hand-squeeze after some heavy flirtation and the smile on both your faces as you lean in for that first and fatal kiss.
I know lots of people who make the mistake of thinking their one-night stands are more than just that, but not me. I’ve always been a firm believer in not emotionally investing in someone just because they’re there for a moment. I’ve seen it too many times. One of my friends will hook up with a guy, tell me it was fun but that he was nothing special, and then be unreasonably devastated when he doesn’t call. They go out expecting sex, and as soon as they get it, they want something more. Me? I just wanted the physical satisfaction without the messy game-playing tactics of dating. Then again, maybe this philosophy was only so easy for me to advocate because the guys I slept with weren’t there. We’d sleep together, they’d never call again and I’d be content knowing another one would come along.
Then, someone was there. To begin with, he was there in my text message inbox the next day, asking me out for drinks. We had met the night before at a bar. I’d gone home with him and we leisurely laid around in bed the next day having the “getting to know you all over again now that we’ve already slept together while I was totally blacked out” conversation. He dropped me back at my place and gave me one last teasing kiss goodbye. Or so I thought it would be. When I saw his name on my phone screen later that day I was initially excited, then nervous, and eventually pissed as I faced the serious issue of figuring out what to wear and how late to show up so I wouldn’t be rude, but also so I wouldn’t be the first one there, sitting at the bar by myself, sipping on a beer and gingerly looking around wondering if I would be able to recognize my now-to-be two-night stand.
But to my surprise, it went well. We talked, laughed, flirted, touched and eventually wound up at my place, having sex the way only people who don’t give a fuck can fuck: sweaty, aggressive and for what seemed like hours. I had bruises on my arm from biting myself because it was so good. And it didn’t stop there; the amazing sex went on for almost three months. In between our time in bed he took me out on dates and we hung out with his friends. Mostly though, we did it – a lot. And just like that, someone was there and I was happy being with him.
Unfortunately, just as easily, I found myself being unhappy not being with him. I started doing all the things I hate seeing my friends do. I checked my phone maniacally, was upset when he didn’t call or text, agonized over whether we were just hanging out, or dating, or dating exclusively. I made jokes to him about flirting with other guys to test his reaction and sent crazy raving apologies when he brushed them off dismissively. I don’t know if he caught on to my growing neuroses, or was just bored, or didn’t really think anything of it, but after two months of being fairly inseparable, we separated – without discussion or argument. I heard from him less and less, and in an attempt to salvage my dignity, I stopped making an effort to reach him. After a few weeks he texted me asking where I had disappeared to and casually threw out a suggestion to hang out. While I thought I had responded positively, we never did have great sex again.
This all happened months ago, early in the fall, but I just recently saw him for the first time since. I was invited to a going away party for a mutual friend. We all met at a bar and when I saw him from across the room, I cried somewhat hysterically and ran to the bathroom with my best friend like it was middle school. Only in middle school, the bathroom doesn’t have a fabulous transvestite attendant selling candy apple flavored shots while dishing out positive female affirmations. Thanks to this gender impersonator, I eventually composed myself enough to encounter him, where he was just like all my other one-night-stands. We avoided acknowledging each other’s presence until it became painfully awkward to continue doing so, and then we finally exchanged the briefest of hellos. Then it was over – for good.
The thing is, I never expected “us” to last forever. While we did have a similar sense of humor and were clearly sexually compatible, most of our downtime was spent smoking weed and watching television. This arrangement was comfortable enough but not exactly the makings of a great romance. I should have been prepared for the excruciating casualty of our parting. But there was something about that amazing connection in bed that stuck with me. I was never able to return to my former sexually liberated and carefree self. After that taste of great sex, I always wanted something more, like so many girls I have seen crash and burn before me.
Ironically, I never missed the guy I lost my virginity to. In fact, I don’t even remember the first time we did it. Not because I was too drunk or drugged up, but because, as I suspect at least, it was completely unremarkable. Which leaves me to wonder. How much of our heart’s feelings are determined by our body’s? How is it that the breakup with my high school sweetheart left me unscathed, eyes dry and ready to meet other guys, while the disappearance of a boy I never even expected to stick around in the first place broke my heart? Why did I miss the physical connection more than the emotional one?
Perhaps a physical closeness is harder to replace than its emotional counterpart. A full year of my high-school relationship was spent communicating long distance. Even if we weren’t having much sex to begin with, without the innocent comforts of hand holding or watching movies snuggled up on the couch together, the interactions we were reduced to were nothing I couldn’t get from a good friend. And the one-nighters that followed him, while physically satisfying enough, kept me safe in their autonomy. It could be that before Mr. Amazing-In-Bed, I never depended on anyone to satisfy me.
So it turns out consistency is the real heartbreaker.
Sometimes I think it was the Universe’s way of keeping me in check. Since I was the girl who only wanted sex and was happy using random people to fulfill that need, Fate brought me really good sex that I couldn’t help but come back to the source for, again and again. And in doing so, I was tricked into creating room for just one boy in my life. Without him, I found myself with a vacant room, and could no longer bring myself to fill it with just any stranger.