Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Is meaningful casual sex a paradox?

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Shreya Christina
Shreya has been with for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

I lost my virginity to a graduate student from Los Angeles. We had met at a run-down cafe whose Yelp page complained of an alleged rat infestation. His name was Ken and he was 25. What attracted me to him was the peculiar way his mouth was constantly fixed in a sideways, crescent shape resembling a grin, but without any trace of smugness. But by far the two most notable parts of Ken were the curve of his face on the board and his small, expressionless teddy bear eyes. Among the things that were important to him were his best friend, a high school dropout who sold computer parts in Toronto, and sex.

It hurt the first time. The second time was only slightly better, not unlike what I expected in high school after a friend told me you could simulate an orgasm by holding your pee in: awkward yet vaguely erotic. The time and its intimate proximity helped me get rid of the pain. I began to see what we were doing as an act of sensuousness and emotion rather than sensuality.

While it was definitely sexual—it is sex, after all—the other, less lust-driven components were able to evoke every possible feeling, which made it special. Gradually it became more than just banging, it evolved into a means of connecting with another human being. Even though we both knew we were going to grow apart, it was comforting to have someone to hold on to in the middle of the night. The inevitable end of our time together only made us enjoy each other’s presence more.

My second and last sexual partner must have thought differently about me. He was a French-born Chinese man who broke up with his girlfriend a few months before our brief affair. The end of the relationship was just as spontaneous and random as the beginning. As on the first night, I was sprawled on a futon in his one-bedroom apartment, with him panting on top of me. Wanting to impress him with my bilingualism, I said to him:I love you.” I love you.

He paused halfway through intercourse as the words passed my lips. He then backed away from me and freed himself from beneath the mass of filthy sheets that had entangled us both in an intense, if slightly uneasy embrace. When I asked what he was doing, he explained that it seemed like I was looking for a boyfriend. “Don’t give me those puppy-dog eyes. Look, you’re taking this too seriously. And now I feel bad for leading you on.”

“That’s insane,” I said, to which he responded by donning a pair of men’s sweatpants that had been lying on the floor.

I tried to reason with him and blurted out anything that might make him change his mind: people said all kinds of crazy things during sex. Why was “love” such a taboo word when dirty talk was allowed when it was not expected? The French verb “aimer” could mean “to love” as much as “to love”; it was so ambiguous. And by the way, even the definition of love-love was super big if you really thought about it. And why exactly did people like him think that every woman was looking for a long-term relationship? Didn’t he realize how unlikely it was for us to have anything serious together? Did he equate my womanhood with affection and idiotic idealism?

He took me to the subway after he swore to God that we could still be friends. We hugged at the entrance of the station and he promised to see ‘The Martian’ with me the next day, although he would never come to the cinema. That was the last time I saw him.

As I descended the urine-stained stairwell that led to the turnstiles, finally forcing myself onto the platform and the crowded train, I couldn’t help but get mad—angry at myself, at the French-Chinese guy, at the dishwater-blonde schoolgirl who took the last seat before I could. I felt sick as I clung loosely to one of the cold metal posts that ran the length of the car.

My mind was torn in a million directions. Disjointed thoughts kept me from staring out the window as I normally did on any ride. Everything was a question: why were people so afraid to make emotional, temporary connections with others? Why did we only value relationships that had no foreseeable expiration date? Why was the guarantee of losing people accepted and yet ignored in the same way as death? Was it really such a terrible fate? And couldn’t agreements satisfy other emotions than just lust?

After a few stops I felt tears welling up in my eyes. People sure are stupid, I thought. So easy to influence. I was trying to fish a Kleenex out of my bag when the train shot forward and threw me against the sliding doors.

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