lessons from sex with partner x

This is a lot to disclose but on second- or thousandth-consideration I think that sex with Partner X in 2019 was a bit perfect for me because she was adventurous and would reveal a great appetite whenever we finally got down to it, those dozen-odd times in the middle of the year, and but I think another thing I liked about our dynamic is that she was so demur, and that she pretended to not only never look at porn but to be mortified by it, and I was charmed by the way she’d let out a little yelp and look aghast in a pearl-clutching way if I said “cunt” in conversation but then, in private, could, if she wanted, be just as vulgar (more so) and there was some delicate interplay between her telling me in a pseudo-serious way to not be so vulgar all the time and her telling me not to even bother with a condom—and what I’m wondering in retrospect is whether it says something about me that I so enjoyed that mannered modest “ladylike” daytime persona because it was unthreatening, deferential, and because it made me feel edgier in the context of, say, her making more money than I did, or her being more traveled and all-around cultured than I was, and what I think is also worth mentioning on this front is that, while she was always much cleaner than I when it came to things like hygiene and apparel and vocabulary, she was also way more prepared to seep her hands into, like, the bureaucratic muck of life. To call her insurance people and hammer things out. To go to the doctor when something was wrong and follow up. Unlike me, she used words like, “interest rate” and “deferral” and “yes” without a ghostly question mark at the end.

One time we were laying in bed in the middle of the afternoon and she was asking about porn, specifically the stuff on reddit, and so I found a ranked list of the most popular NSFW pages and we went through the top thirty or so, skipping a few, and we looked at the “all-time top” posts on those pages that specialized in, say, anal sex, or blowjobs, or groupsex, and she would clutch her mouth and gasp and “Aah! Oh my god!” at like the sight of a cumshot or a footjob or somebody getting really aggressively fucked in the butt and she’d actually turn red, and cover her eyes and mine…but she would laugh about it, too. And occasionally she’d show such repose about it as to comment on something like the disparity between a performer’s skin tone and the color of their nipples, or she’d crinkle her mouth at somebody’s garish implants, or she’d say with seriously adoring whimsy that she wished she had eyelashes like this woman on screen who’s got two penises in her mouth.

And then she’d say, “OK next,” and if I left it on she’d paw at the screen: “Neeext!” and she’d laugh, and I’d switch to the next page or post, and she’d grumble her disapproval of the next thing, or yelp, or wince, then laugh again. Acted all along like this was so out of her element. So gross and uncouth. But then, after looking at 20 or 30 gifs across ten or fifteen subreddits, little peepholes into a spectrum of kinks that she demurred from—she starts making purr-like noises, restless, and her hands start wandering. I go to draw the blinds and she says no, leave them open.

            And what I’m wondering now in the wake of the affair, and when I consider how often I think back to that feeling of security and authority I felt when we slept together, is if maybe the reason that her behavior struck such a chord for me is because I’m kind of intimidated by women who are super forthcoming with their sexual appetites, like maybe I prefer people who are gonna be subtle and almost secretive about it until, in private, they make it all about you and help you to enjoy the fantasy that they could only ever possibly think about sex as it exists in relation to you and that there’s therefore no competition. That sex, to them, is foreign and uninteresting and scary except when with you—in whose company and touch it becomes a themepark.

            Like it’s clearly not a glowing thing to confront about myself or admit, but I think, looking back, that it gave me the idea that her sexuality was a thing that existed exclusively between us as opposed to what it really is: a thing that exists within a single person, that belongs to that single person, and can be steered this way and that and swayed by temptation.

            A sinister component to this: one night, when I had tonsillitis and wasn’t keeping much in touch with her, she showed up at my apartment after happy hour, drunk, to tell me that she’d made out with a friend at a bar an hour prior, and then they’d gone to his car and fooled around, because I wasn’t giving her enough attention. Told me I didn’t care about her. Then I yelled, furious, “I care!”—which was kind of a hideously ironic thing to yell at somebody (and also sounded almost comical because tonsillitis made my voice like sandpaper and gargles).

            So we fought, and didn’t speak for a few days, and then she asked if I wanted to meet at Redbar that Friday, and I said sure, and so I went, and she met me, and she brought me a chicken quesadilla (my favorite food) as a peace offering. And we made up. She came over, we had sex—it was great.

            But it was kinda toxic, our dynamic. Using sex as a kind of instrument. A weapon and a lure and a balm. It was complicated and it drove us apart and pulled us back together. It was a crazy relationship—but it was the kind of craziness where, for all of the headaches and the games and the treachery, there was this thing where, in the middle of like a frothing argument with all of these accusations and whatever, at the peak of vitriol…one of us would smile. And the other would smile. And then we’d have sex.

            It was an absolute whirlwind. I loved it.

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