All For One, and One For All

My stupid toxic type-A personality is unhealthy in a lot of ways, but the one weighing most heavily on me is that I feel like I should be emotionally ready to want to date again.

Having gone on three first Tinder dates this week, I can say for certain that I am not ready. Still. Three very different people, all the same outcome: I just wanted to bolt.

One was a perfectly nice former pro soccer player-turned SQL dev who came out to the east end because I asked him to.
One was a beautiful English woman who spent our date inviting me out to kink events and roller derby practice.

One was a bartender who was an excellent conversationalist but physically I wasn’t at all into it.

And I couldn’t wait for each one to end. I kept thinking “I could be doing anything, or nothing, with the time I am spending here being polite and making jokes about early 2000s hip-hop.” It felt formulaic, because I know how to be charming and I know all the stories to tell that aren’t ~too much~. I was antsy.

I explained to a friend (who is going through a very similar phase) that I don’t even WANT to be dating right now, I just want to know that I am capable of it just in case something amazing comes along. It’s like anything else:

I feel like I should be doing something, so I do it. I have a shit time, so I don’t want to do it. I start feeling pressure to do it again, so I get antsy until I do it. Over and over. I used to have the energy for four dates in a week. These three left me exhausted.

Of course, my friend wisely said that I shouldn’t be doing anything I don’t want to do, it just doesn’t feel that easy. For me, getting Tinder dates is easy. Getting a second date from someone who doesn’t excite me is easy. Going to a sex club and getting propositioned is the easiest thing in the world. It’s been a long time since anything easy has appealed to me.

I *hate* the thought that Eleven being a dick to me for the last six months of our relationship has RUINED sex positivity and the pursuit of sex for me. He would pursue anything that walked by, including people and situations that weren’t okay, but then would have these “We have to sit down and discuss why I’m not attracted to you; it’s because I want to fuck everything and you won’t let me” conversations.

My type, under- or unemployed skinny sarcastic jerks who call me out and come from money, is the worst type. I think a lot of my hesitation comes from knowing how awful those people are for me, but still being laser-focused on ONLY being attracted to them. That type is all I have ever dated for twelve years, and that’s probably going to be a difficult streak to break. The next five, ten, fifteen people who excite me will be some variation on it, but I would have to be excited by someone first.

I had a patient on Thursday who knocked me off my feet. The problems in that statement are super obvious, and as a licensed professional I will never be able to act on it… but I flirted in a way I haven’t since well before Eleven and I broke up. I just found him so compelling.

He is type: My height; slight; a programmer who uses an obscure language on which he literally wrote the book; comes from enough money/sold enough books that he can work on his passion project full time… but he’s older than anyone I’ve pursued before (mid-40s) and has no social media presence except a home renovation YouTube channel. In fact, the only mentions of him on Twitter are “What ever happened to _____?” I have more questions than answers, but it’s nice to know I’m not completely dead inside.

So Tinder gets retired for another week, when I visit New York with my cool buddy Javert. Will we finally successfully use Tinder Social? I’ll probably have a better time if we don’t.

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She has a system

I’ve been living in my new, single-woman apartment for a month.
I’ve been single for two and a half months.
I’ve been off Tinder for a month and a half.

For the first time in my adult life, I am actively not dating. I have too much rebuilding to do. I have to work on my professional development (I failed a huge professional exam I wrote a week before Eleven and I broke up), I have to work on my self-esteem (I derive a lot of my worth from dating weird/cool people, or feeling superior to boring people), I have to work on unfucking my body (I just started having to wear a medical device that changes the way I look; I am self-conscious about it), and I have to work on my trust issues.

That last one is going to be complicated. I’ve been cheated on, gaslighted or both in every relationship I’ve been in since 2011. Part of Eleven’s gaslighting even INVOLVED my established trust issues, saying “That’s just your trust issues talking. I don’t know why you let Harold’s behaviour dictate our non-monogamy. If you weren’t broken, you’d let me do x.” As far as I know, he wasn’t explicitly cheating on me, but he definitely kept things he and his partners did from me and was very obviously establishing a fuckit list. Being constantly told that all your suspicions are rooted in being broken is such classic gaslighting behaviour. I am still very angry at him for that.

Two weeks or so after the breakup, I was doxxed on 4Chan. I discovered that the guy behind that egregious compromise was a man I’d considered a good friend. I had attended his baby shower, his wedding and had even posed scantily-clad for some of his body-positivity projects. When we dug deeper, we learned that six of my friends (at least) had also been doxxed over the years. I felt sick. I had given him so much social capital over the years – introducing him to friends of mine who would later be compromised, retweeting his projects, laughing at his jokes… he was a ~woke feminist ally who punched up~ and seemed to care deeply for his female friends. Though he initially denied it, his fall was fast and fiery. It was well-publicized, so you probably heard about it if you follow Canadian news.

I am SO TIRED of providing social capital to mediocre, narcissistic predators who think they have a right to femme bodies, time and energy. Oddly, or perhaps fittingly, the men who hurt me and my friends have shiny progressive exteriors. They know what to say and retweet and they have female friends who’ll vouch for them. Eleven won me over initially through referrals by other feminists, most of whom still stand by him. The Feminist-to-fuck phenomenon has been documented to death, and I just trust no one anymore. A friend with a locked account tweeted this a week or so ago:

I immediately side eye ~woke poly dudes~ (and all dudes whose “feminism” is noticeably limited to “sex/sex work positivity”). Like, I see you when your “feminism” is focused on the benefit of your getting laid more.)

It’s been years since I’ve been something other than Sex Girl Who’ll Do Weird Stuff/Prude Who Gatekeeps, a particular modernization of the typical virgin/whore dichotomy. Inexperienced dudes are fascinated by my thirst and need for control. Experienced dudes are repulsed by the same. I haven’t been respected in a sexual relationship in a long time, and it’s been even longer since I’ve respected my partner sexually.

I have a tweet in my drafts that just says “Hot take: what if sex isn’t worth it?”

I don’t want to be in a relationship, and since I’m not sure that respectful sex could exist for me I am just… not bothering. That, mixed with not drinking, has saved me a lot of money and energy. I wish I could say that I’m being productive with my time – studying, running, setting up my place – but… I’ve watched a lot of X-Files. I’m not proud.

Relatedly, my DMs lit up as soon as I let it slip that I’m not dating

Scully Lighters Gif.gif

(I have some Funny Quality Content 4u next time tho)

 

I dig you

I thought it would be too soon to meet up with someone from Tinder. I mean, I’m only just starting to pack up the condo I shared with Eleven. He even still has some food in the fridge that hasn’t even gone bad yet.

But, not to put too fine a point on it, I haven’t had a partnered orgasm this year.
I haven’t had someone excited by my body for significantly longer.

My friend Anastasia suggested we try Tinder Social with a friend of hers, which sounds awful, but I am a glutton for punishment (inasmuch as someone with my domme tendencies can be). I start swiping for all of us, and it’s… dire. Groups ranging in age from 21 to 45 or groups with one member who is 2165 kilometers away. I shut it down pretty quickly, but my swiping finger got itchy…

So I swiped for myself. I was picky as heck. I specifically wanted someone I’d probably never see again, because I had no idea how this would go. I live in high-tourist area, so my matches quickly filled with profiles that read “Here for a week!”

Then Rocky super-liked me. I am so torn about super-likes. They didn’t exist two years ago, which was the last time I really swiped for men, and I take them as a compliment but they aren’t going to sway me towards swiping back if I’m not feeling it. This guy, though? I was feeling it hard. Something about his huge brown eyes and stubble were extremely compelling for me. There was a bit of a BTSK vibe, which meant there was a bit of a Michael Weatherly vibe. He even had “In Toronto until Thursday for a conference” in his profile.

We arranged to grab a beer on Tuesday night, at a dark little pub walking distance from condo I shared with Eleven a fortnight ago. Prepared for the worst, I confessed via text that I had just been through a rough breakup so this could be weird. He said, “We’ll just take it as it happens.”

Rocky showed up in a slender navy suit and didn’t touch his phone all night. The conversation moved quickly. We almost immediately went for the fucked-up family TMI stories, and he shared stories of working up in northern BC (where he lives). After two hours, I invited him back to the condo. Any guilt I felt about bringing a person back to the white box I tried to make a home quickly dissipated when Rocky confessed that he has submissive tendencies.

I made him praise my body, which had only been touched reluctantly for the past year, and not at all in 2017. I made him beg me to touch him. I made him call me Ms. with a “Z” sound. I ran my fingernails so hard down his back he had raised marks the next day. I used him in a way that facilitated three orgasms for me. I was unprepared and out of domme practice, but we immediately made plans to meet up again the next night after the conference.

I washed some of my favourite toys, put on my boots and strappiest Agent Provocateur set and lounged around the condo feeling very glamourous and powerful. By 9:30, though, I hadn’t heard from him. I sent him a stern “Tell me where you are” text, and it was after 10:00 before he got back to me.

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I sent him a snapchat of my outfit, but was not going to try to convince him. He was effusive in his praise, but chose a good night’s sleep over our booty call.

I was a little peeved at the time, so I asked a few girlfriends if I could send them the picture too, and their praise and affirmation was more important than his would have been.

I don’t know if there’s a lesson here. It doesn’t really matter, I guess. It was something to get out of my system, and now I can focus on things like my move and the 5k race I’m running this week. I’ll likely never see him again, though he has texted me a fair bit since he arrived home.

I just need to keep myself further and further away from Eleven.

 

 

Plus Ca Change…

I’ve been single again for two weeks now. It’s weird and complicated and my emotions rise and fall like roller coasters surrounded by signs that scream “Not for the faint of heart or stomach.”

That simile works especially well because roller coasters are designed so that you end up right back where you started. The tracks are unchanging, and if you’ve ridden once or twice or seventeen times you learn the bumps and jolts.

I didn’t think I’d been here before. I thought that this was a new kind of heartbreak, accompanied by a new kind of disappointment and a new feeling of foolishness. Reading over my posts from my last round of life partner auditions just shows that I don’t learn from the mistakes I make. I fall for the same people – ones who excite me enough to think I can fix them, or bore me in ways that makes their inevitable rejection hurt less.

And I don’t know how to change that.

My breakup with Eleven can be summarized by quotations I’ve already written on this blog:

“At the time, I was living with Harold, and we were doing the typical things that couples do during the slow death of an unhealthy non-monogamous relationship. That night involved coming home after having eaten separately, lying on the bed and spending silent hours on our phones until either bedtime (when we’d each decide if we wanted to have sex), a stream aired a west-coast basketball game or one of us would pick a fight.”

or

“Spare me the self-flagellation, Catch. You wanted to ignore something until it went away and it’s not working out very well for you. The people in my life ALWAYS do this; the “I acknowledge my obviously shitty behaviour, point to a personality flaw upon which I can hang everything, and call myself an idiot before doing absolutely nothing to change my behaviour” thing. The men in my family PRACTICALLY INVENTED that crap.”

That might be the saddest part of all of this. It’s not the loss of the future I imagined where somehow Eleven worked as hard for us as I did. It’s not the loss of his wonderful family, or that he knows everyone and will have no trouble moving on because no one will hold him accountable.

It’s that I’ve had enough power to take myself out of these situations before, and I didn’t this time. I was so unhappy – we broadcasted what Carly Lewis calls, “the sort of chic pseudo-polyamory that conflates dishonest promiscuity with ethical non-monogamy and seems to propagate my peer group.” Meanwhile we were loveless and sexless and desperate to hide it, as if we cared what others thought. Eleven resented that he couldn’t act single while benefiting from all of my emotional labour, and I resented that he kept moving the line of what *I* had to do to satisfy him. Still, I stayed. I didn’t even PLAN to leave. I usually have backup plans upon backup plans, and the explosion two Mondays ago was especially devastating BECAUSE I was had no recourse.

What is it that Chvrches sings? “I never promised you anything I couldn’t do, and you never promised me that you would see things differently.” Lauren Mayberry, the goddess she is, says we should “Bury it and rise above.” I assumed the chorus was about putting a toxic relationship in the ground, but Genius claims otherwise.

Sorry to my fellow Scottish feminist princess, but I am sticking to my interpretation. This relationship is six feet under (and I can grieve as much as I need), but the lesson is the same: I bury it, and I rise above. I just have to fucking learn from it this time.

007: You Only Live Twice

“Hi can we cool it on the hookup front? I have some feelings for someone I’m trying to work out.”

Goddamn I hate iMessage first thing in the morning sometimes.

“I’m not just going to call you in two weeks when it blows over, don’t worry.”

That’s what I would do if the situation were reversed, and I think he knows that.

I’m trying to figure out exactly why I’m bothered by this, because I am. I’ve heard it a dozen times in my life from many different people, but I’ve never been on the other side of it. I want to say it’s because I can handle casual hookups. I don’t know if that’s true, or if it ever was.

The radio played “Do I Wanna Know” as I got dressed for work. I’m glad this song wasn’t around four and a half years ago, when 007 first gave a sexual friendship a try. It was more applicable then, when I was looking to be in a relationship with him; when I thought everything he did was art. Learning that 007 is human with flaws and insecurities and a guilty conscience made me more comfortable with him. I think he liked being with me because I know how hard he works to not be the person he was back then. I’m not the same person I was at 22 either.

“Yeah, no probs.” I replied, “Hope it works out! She’s lucky, whoever she is! :)” Completely fucking honestly. He is, above all else, a completely solid friend and a dude whom I am lucky to have in my life.

I have a weird expectation for myself that I say what I mean and mean what I say. That I hate the grey areas that exist when open communication doesn’t. I am excited to spend time with 007. I am excited when we’re at a house party full of people who don’t catch us checking each other out; I’m excited when we watch episodes of TV shows he wants to share with me; I’m excited clothed, naked, eating twizzlers, drinking tea and any state in between. 007 passes Mark Manson’s Fuck Yes! test. He passed the Fuck Yes! test even when we were seeing other people and he tutored me through my academic upgrading. 

Shuffle managed to play “Heartbeat” on my commute. This is more like it. An ex of mine used to tell me that 007 reminded him of a white Donald Glover. “I’mma flirt with this new girl and I’mma call if it don’t work.” I’m guilty of that.

Every part of me is screaming “THIS ISN’T ABOUT YOU, T.” And I want it desperately to work out between him and whoever the girl is.

And if it ends, I want him to take me climbing again. Because I know I’ll still be into it. I’ll still shout “Fuck yes!” Even when I find someone else with a sexual charge as strong as his, I’m going to proposition platonic baseball games or long bike rides with him, no expectations of a happy ending (of either kind).

In the meantime, I’ll be on Tinder.

007: For Your Eyes Only

Almost immediately after my most recent big breakup, I started sleeping with a friend of mine. I don’t care that it might be a bad idea, because every rebound bingo card needs a “Greatest Hits” square, and (though I hate to rank former flames), as far as sexual connection it’s been 007 and Harold (my most recent ex), a deep chasm, and then everyone else.

007 and I met half a decade ago through a friend who’d been infatuated with him in high school. We went home together the night we met, and though it’s been years since we last kissed I always had vivid erotic flashbacks to showering together or the way he’d roll my stockings down while undressing me. It lasted only a few months (and we both got hurt in the end – it inspired the friend who introduced us to write a song!) but I’m sure everyone I’ve dated since my dalliance with 007 could tell that I was comparing them, and that they usually came up short. We stayed friends, though. He tutored me through the entry exams for my program and let me pay him for his troubles in baseball tickets and food specific to his dietary needs. He quit drinking and has been a solid dude to me for many years.

Sure, our New Years kisses would linger a little too long. And we’d *like* every vaguely scandalous social media picture. And his friends would say things like “Tinderella is no stranger to dick blindness – she dated 007, after all!” but that was our deal. We kept our hands to ourselves. I will always defend him, because I adore him.

It wasn’t what I intended to happen when he invited me to his climbing gym one Sunday afternoon shortly after I gave my ex the boot – I just let 007 teach me how to scale lumpy walls the way I let him teach me math, or how to kiss. When I’d slip off, he’d catch me, even though the mats would have broken my fall rather adequately. He stretched me out at the end and we’d blush at things that weren’t necessarily sexual (“Whoa one of your hips is way more flexible than the other, T!”) We grabbed falafel and he invited me to watch a movie.

After we watch all of Beauty Day, I say “Hey 007, what are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking about sex.”
I sit there, blinking. I’m thinking about sex as well but I expected to have to tiptoe around it. “I don’t know how to respond to that.”
“Forget it,”
“No. I just… it’s really soon. But I want to. With you, I mean.”

I am the most awkward person alive.

We put on Adventure Time, and I snuggle closer.

“It’s been a while for me,” he confessed.

I kiss him. We are frenetic. He carries me over to the bed; I’ve forgotten how strong he is. No, I haven’t. I’ve willfully ignored how strong he is until right now. That willful ignorance was the only thing keeping me from losing my mind when I couldn’t touch him for years. I can’t get close enough. It’s exactly as good as I remember, if not better.
“I forgot how…” he starts, panting.
I cut him off with a kiss. “I didn’t.”

The next few hours are a blur. Everything we try works. We fit. We are sweaty and sticky and we’re down for whatever the other suggests.

Every subsequent sleepover date has been just as satisfying… to the point where I get aroused even seeing a new iMessage from him, because an iMessage means he’s thinking about me and wants to know what I’m up to and maybe wants to know what I’m doing later.

The few friends who know are very hesitant, and have expressed concern. I understand why. This whole post (keeping it from our friends; my need to justify it; the GUSHING! all in spite of our past) is a long series of red flags.

But for all the sexual experiences I’ve had since my breakup, ones with 007 are the only ones that don’t feel empty; where the conversation doesn’t suck and the sex is challenging and constantly changing.  Other partners make me feel like we’re only together until something more appropriate comes along, but I have no expectations either way about this.

It’s what I need right now. I don’t need to be loved; I don’t need to be romanced or plied with drinks. I especially don’t need a bunch of men I don’t know sending me dick pics (so no, I will not add you on SnapChat, random Tinder bros). I need a laugh and a handful of volcanic orgasms, but maybe if it keeps going I’m also going to need a way to tell our friends without them freaking out.