Right after Ex-Mr. Jessica and I broke up around New Year’s, Tom*, a friend I’ve had for about four years asked if I wanted to go down to Washington, D.C., and visit him to get my mind off the breakup. I assumed there might be an ulterior motive there, but I was in pulling-my-hair-out, “Who knows why men do anything?!” mode and wasn’t totally sure. In any case, I told Tom I was still too sad to be good company, which was true.
Over the next six weeks, we chatted online a couple of times. Then before Valentine’s Day, he asked me if I wanted to take the day off work on February 14, come down to D.C., and go on a date with him. By this time, my heartbreak had cooled and I was feeling more open in dating. I’ve always liked Tom and had great conversations with him, so I thought, Why not? But I still thought Valentine’s Day was a terrible time for a first date, especially for someone in another city. (I have friends in D.C. whose place I could crash at anytime, but I’d feel intrusive crashing on Valentine’s Day.) Instead, I told him, why don’t we talk on the phone sometime and one of us can go visit the other one for an actual date if we have a good connection?
So, Tom did call and we had one of our typically good talks. We both said we wanted to talk again. And then … nothing. I didn’t hear from him for, like, 10 days.
Then this weekend, I got an email from Tom. He was sorry he hadn’t called, he said. But the truth is, he continued, he’s not looking for a relationship. He had only wanted me to come down to D.C. to see him for, as he so eloquently put it, “stress-free indoor sports.”
Now, I don’t judge a person for not wanting a relationship but “stress-free indoor sports” only. That release can be a beautiful thing. But why the hell would you tell a person that?
I feel offended and a tiny bit hurt that he only wanted me for casual sex. It’s not that I’m complaining Tom was attracted to me enough to hook up, but I’m hurt that all he wanted from me was casual sex — especially knowing I just got out of a serious relationship. Doesn’t that seem like it lacks some sensitivity and tact?
Now, I’m a little bit of a confused head case right now when it comes to relationships and I acknowledge that. Everything I had settled into regarding love, commitment, compatibility and passion abruptly changed when I was dumped the boyfriend of two years whom I’d been living with and had been expecting to marry. He made a complete 180-degree turn and because our lives were so intertwined (as much as unmarried people’s lives can be, I suppose), my life turned 180 degrees, too. As growth experiences go, I believe it’s been all been for the best. I’ve done a lot of thinking in the past two months and am redefining what it is I think I want in a life partner. Some personality traits or attributes I feel pretty certain about; others, less so. By far the most confusing area of all is figuring out how I feel about intimacy and sex without commitment.
The first guy I hooked up with after my long-term relationship ended wasn’t someone I was in a committed relationship with; in fact, I went home with him after our first date. We really liked each other, but we rushed into physical intimacy too fast and I spazzed out afterwards. I regret now that we didn’t move more slowly; I genuinely had a thing for him and would have liked to see where it could take us. But the too-much-too-soon intimacy was confusing and upsetting, not the least bit because I had really believed I couldn’t be intimate with someone without love and commitment.
When it came to bedding guys, I used to be happily hedonistic. I might still be like that somewhere inside, but I’m not really sure; my long-term desires of commitment, love, marriage and children are clouding that hedonism a little bit. But I do know when Ex-Mr. Jessica and I broke up, the idea of being intimate with other men whom I didn’t have a shared sense of intimacy and a love connection with made me viscerally repulsed. The idea of having sex with someone whose children you would carry if you accidentally got knocked, to having casual sex for fun (or “fun”), was too much for me. I still think it is too much for me.
I did have some “stress-free indoor sports” with the first guy I went on a date with after the breakup, only it wasn’t “stress-free.” I realized I wasn’t wired for casual sex. And maybe what’s changed is now I find it kinda offensive that casual sex is the only thing Tom wanted with me, that he actually told me he did not want a relationship. Don’t get me wrong — I thanked Tom for his complete honesty and told him it showed maturity that he was up-front about what he wanted. On one level, it was definitely the right thing to do.
But I’m not sure my friendship with Tom can continue the way it was before. All I can think right now is that I thought he genuinely liked me, but he really just wanted a penis warmer. I feel a little embarrassed that Tom sees me that way. And, damn, am I glad I did not go down to D.C.